Back in the day, there were two places champions would go after they won the big game — Disneyland and the White House. As the political climate has become more divisive, however, many athletes have turned down the chance to celebrate their big wins at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
In the wake of the Philadelphia Eagles’ win over the New England Patriots, several players have already decided to skip the White House visit. So far Malcolm Jenkins, Torrey Smith, and Chris Long have said they will not attend the annual celebration.
Long, who skipped the visit last year along with his teammate LeGarrette Blount after winning a ring with the New England Patriots, has been an outspoken critic of Trump.
"No, I'm not going to the White House. Are you kidding me?" Long said last month. “My son grows up, and I believe the legacy of the President is going to be what it is. I don't want him to say, 'Hey Dad, why'd you go when you knew it was the right thing to not go?'"
Jenkins, who was asked whether or not he’d attend the event, made it plain that he wasn’t partying with Trump.
“I personally do not anticipate attending,” he said on CNN. “I’m about creating positive change in the communities that I come from, whether it be Philadelphia, New Jersey, Ohio, Louisiana, or this entire country.”
Torrey Smith is another player who won’t be turning up with POTUS in the Rose Garden. He once called Trump “the most divisive person in this entire country” in a now deleted tweet, and he’s been protesting during the National Anthem during the regular season. While many criticized his decision to say he’d skip the celebration if the Eagles won, he took to twitter to have the last laugh.
“Reading the tweets from the last week from all of the Trump supporters destroying my mentions saying ‘You gotta win before you even get invited to the White House,’” Smith wrote on Twitter while sharing a video of a man laughing.
Last summer, after the Golden State Warriors won the NBA championship, the team voted to skip the White House visit. Star player Kevin Durant said he was opting out because “I don't respect who's in office right now,” and the team’s coach, Steve Kurr, said that while they may have been able to set politics aside during normal times, “These are not ordinary times.”
Donald Trump responded to the snub by rescinding the invitation and attacking superstar guard Steph Curry on Twitter, but everyone knew the deal — the Warriors weren’t going allow themselves to be used as a photo-op and the president was not happy about it.