Eagles' Jenkins responds to White House snub with signs

ByJamison Hensley via ESPN logo
Wednesday, June 6, 2018

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles safetyMalcolm Jenkinsdelivered a powerful response to the defending Super Bowl champions' being disinvited to the White House without saying a word.

A day after the Eagles had been scheduled to see President Donald Trump, Jenkins held up about a dozen handwritten signs Wednesday, standing in silence as a large crowd of reporters continued to ask him questions.

Some of the signs read:

  • "You aren't listening"
  • "More than 60% of people in prison are people of color"
  • "Any given night 500,000 sit in jail. Convicted? No. Too Poor? Yes #EndCashBail"
  • "Chris Long gave his entire year's salary to educational initiatives"
  • "Colin Kaepernick gave $1 million to charity"
  • "Devin McCourty Duron Harmon, Matt Slater and Johnson Bademosi lobbied to raise the age from 7 to 12 entering the criminal justice system"
  • "in 2018 439 people shot and killed by police (thus far)"

Jenkins, who raised his fist during the national anthem, was among the Eagles who had previously indicated they wouldn't attend the White House ceremony after the Eagles won the Super Bowl.

Jenkins' lack of words became a theme of the locker room, where an estimated 75 local and national reporters left with not many answers. Players wouldn't go into detail about the conversations involving the White House trip or their thoughts on President Trump.

"I have, like, three years of quotes about me and Donald Trump," defensive end Chris Long said. "I'm not going to keep going down that road, respectfully. I'm on to minicamp."

Among the handful of veteran players from the Super Bowl team who spoke, offensive linemen Jason Kelce and Brandon Brooks as well as tight end Zach Ertz declined to say whether they had planned to visit the White House before the cancellation.

"I'm not going to touch on it," Kelce said. "At this point, it doesn't matter."

This marked the first day players addressed the media since White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she sensed "a lack of good faith" from the Eagles during discussions leading up to the event and charged the team with pulling "a political stunt" by telling the White House on the day before the scheduled visit that a small number of players would be attending.

Brooks mentioned there were talks about sending a small committee to the White House but said "nothing was set in stone."

"It's not a stunt or anything like that," Brooks said.

The team had been deliberating for weeks about how to best approach the trip to make it an experience the players could agree on and share together. A large group of Eagles players ultimately decided not to attend, including most -- if not all -- of the black players, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Monday.

In a statement, the White House said the vast majority of the Eagles team "decided to abandon their fans" for wanting to send only a small number of representatives.

"I think our fans know good and well how we feel about them," Kelce said. "We are a lot closer knit than most other cities are with their teams."

After canceling the Eagles' visit, Trump decided to change the event so that it would be a celebration of the American flag, with Eagles fans and performances by the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus.

Could this start a trend of championship sports teams not visiting the White House?

"Hopefully we won't have to make decisions like that in a couple of years," Long said, alluding to the 2020 presidential election. "The players didn't create this division."

Long was asked about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell not commenting after the Eagles were disinvited by Trump.

"I don't speak for the commissioner," Long said. "If he doesn't want to stand up for his players, that's not my business."

The Eagles players said the issue isn't really a galvanizing force for the team because it is already unified. Kelce talked at length about how the NFL is a melting pot of people with different backgrounds and opinions who work together as a team.

"The objective wasn't to win the Super Bowl so we could go to the White House," Kelce said.

ESPN reporter Tim McManus contributed to this report.

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