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February 07, 2018

'Plenty of guys' from the Eagles to skip White House, Torrey Smith says

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith is one of several Super Bowl LII champions who has stated he will not make the customary White House visit that honors the season’s top NFL team.

Publicly, Smith is joined by players Chris Long, Malcolm Jenkins and LeGarrette Blount in boycotting. Earlier this week Jenkins spoke with CNN about the decision, and Smith appeared Tuesday on “CNN Tonight” to discuss his own reasoning behind skipping a visit to President Donald Trump.

“For me, it’s not just about politics,” Smith told CNN anchor Don Lemon.

“If I told you that I was invited to a party by an individual I believe is sexist, or has no respect for women, or I told you that this individual has said offensive things toward many minority groups… this individual also called my peers and my friends SOBs, you would understand why I wouldn’t want to go to that party. Why is it any different when the person has the title of president of the United States?”

Trump has been a vocal opponent to NFL players who took a knee during the national anthem, a movement paved by free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick to bring attention to police brutality and racial divides in the United States. During a rally in Alabama last fall, Trump said the NFL should fire players for their kneeling protest. 

“Get that son-of-a-bitch out of the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired," Trump told the crowd.

Though Smith was not one of the players to take a knee, he has expressed support and adoration for Kaepernick’s movement.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Smith said of Kaepernick on CNN. “He’s a legend to me and I’ll have his back any day of the week.”

Smith also told CNN that there are “plenty of guys” from the winning Eagles team "who said they do not plan on going" to the White House.

Last year, when the New England Patriots were invited just shortly after Trump took office, around two dozen players did not attend, though few publicly stated that it was for political reasons.