Eagles coach Doug Pederson made it clear Tuesday that the team is indeed going to the White House on June 5 — or a contingent is, at least — but players interviewed weren’t exactly embracing the opportunity, some perhaps deferring to teammates’ feelings about President Trump.
When the White House announced the invitation to the Super Bowl champions last week, the organization responded with a statement about trying to work out logistics for a visit to Washington that would include the traditional visit with the president. That wording raised the possibility of meetings with other political leaders, perhaps not from Trump’s orbit, though nothing further has been announced.
On Tuesday as the team began organized team activities, Pederson unequivocally endorsed meeting with Trump, and quarterback Carson Wentz said that “if the team decides as a whole most guys want to go … I will be attending with them. I think it’s just a cool way to receive the honor, kind of nationally, and be recognized.”
“I don’t personally view it like some people do — everyone has their own opinion on it. I don’t view it as a political thing whatsoever. I don’t really mess with politics very often,” Wentz said.
“Excited to be going to be honored as world champions,” Pederson said. “I think it’s a great honor.”
Pederson said the team is “still working through logistics right now,” and that attending is “an individual decision.”
Right tackle Lane Johnson said the visit is “a touchy issue; who knows what’s going to happen?”
Safety Malcolm Jenkins has said he will not participate; Trump last year called players who protest during the national anthem, as Jenkins has, “sons of bitches.” On Tuesday, Jenkins said his stance hasn’t changed, although he said he would attend the day’s other activities.
Jenkins said there will be “some more things we’ll be doing in D.C. during the day that I’ll try to partake in. I definitely want to be there with the team. … For me, there’s a lot going on with that administration. I don’t think it’s the time to really have any kind of productive and constructive conversations about policy. I definitely want to avoid being used as any kind of a pawn.”
Defensive end Chris Long, who supported Jenkins during the anthem protests, said his decision not to attend hasn’t changed, but “teammates have the right to go or not go, and that’s what makes this country awesome. … I think this organization does a great job of not pushing one thing on anybody. It’s a tremendous honor for certain guys.”
Long also skipped the Patriots’ White House visit last year after he won Super Bowl LI with them.