The player’s reactions
Today is June 5th. That was the date set by President Trump for the Super Bowl champions’ to visit the White House for the victory celebration. Over the last four months since the win, several Eagles players including Malcolm Jenkins, Brandon Graham, and Chris Long have said they would not attend. Which is fine, because believe it or not, this happens EVERY year. So why is this year different? Well, now the invitation to the Birds has been rescinded because of disagreements on the new anthem policy. The new anthem rule has done more negative than positive since its announcement last week. Player’s reactions from around the league have shown that putting this rule in place is only harmful to the league. Now, because of the rescinded invitation, Eagles players are reacting on social media.
What were the champs going to do?
The Eagles were planning on sending a small group of representatives to the White House. They would not force anyone to go. The Birds released the following statement in regards to the situation:
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) June 5, 2018
To me, this statement basically says, “We are Super Bowl champions, we don’t care, we are going to continue to be great, and also we won the Super Bowl.”
No one was talking about the anthem protests anymore. Many players, including Jenkins, said they would stop their on-field protests and continue their work off the field. This rule was a scaredy-cat move by Roger Goodell, that brought an “issue” back up that was starting to go away. No Eagles player took a knee during the season. Not one. The majority of Eagles players who said they would not attend the White House visit made it very clear that it had nothing to do with the anthem protests.
There were several players that were silent on the issue and not involved. Now, player’s reactions have been shared on social media. Players that were formerly silent on this issue have now shared their opinions.
Torrey Smith shares his opinions.
Three of the players whose reactions stand out the most are former Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith, Long, and tight end Zach Ertz.
Smith said immediately when the Eagles won the Super Bowl that he would not be visiting the White House, due to the following reasons:
Philadelphia Eagles wise receiver Torrey Smith said in February that most of his teammates wouldn’t go to the White House. Here was his reason. Sounds about right. pic.twitter.com/12vyVBn1LB
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) June 5, 2018
This shows that it was not about the anthem protests, but others are making it out to be.
Many argued with Smith on social media, sending pictures of Ron Brooks kneeling before a game. However, that was a preseason game. The team cut Brooks before the start of the regular season. During the season, no Eagles players kneeled on the sidelines. I was at every home game and not once did I see anything other than Jenkins’s and Rodney McLeod’s fists in the air. And Smith made that clear as well:
Always vocal, Chris Long
Long has not been shy about his support for his teammates in their fight against injustices in our country. The defensive end donated his entire regular season salary for scholarships. He was extremely vocal in saying he would not attend the visit, but again, had nothing to do with the anthem protests.
Long made a point to share that many players had made their decision before the anthem rule was in effect.
The previously uninvolved Zach Ertz
One of the most disturbing results of the rescinded invitation is the usage of photos and videos taken out of context. When the players come out of the tunnel, a lot of them kneel in the end zone and say a prayer before the game. This happens WELL before the anthem plays.
Previously, Ertz had not really spoken about the issue. He had not commented on the protests, the new rule, or anything related to such. Now, Ertz is standing up for himself and his teammates as Fox News tried to make a story out of their pregame prayers, painting a negative narrative of the Philadelphia Eagles:
This can’t be serious…. Praying before games with my teammates, well before the anthem, is being used for your propaganda?! Just sad, I feel like you guys should have to be better than this… https://t.co/kYeyH2zXdK
— Zach Ertz (@ZERTZ_86) June 5, 2018
What does this mean for the Eagles?
Honestly, I think this will continue to unite the Eagles further as a team. The reason the invitation was rescinded has nothing to do with the player’s choices to attend the visit or not. Now, there is a false narrative painted about the team, as Ertz said. News outlets are using their prayers as propaganda instead of using the real photos. The ones of Eagles kneeling. The ones that don’t actually exist because it didn’t happen.
These are supposed to be news outlets. Not TMZ or tabloids. This continues to reignite a flame that was already burnt out. The player’s reactions to the news of the invitation being taken back made it clear that their decisions were never about the anthem, and now the President has just fueled their fire.
Featured Image: Jessica via Flickr