Columnists, Columns, Opinion

Burke’s Bully Pulpit: Eagles players should visit the White House

With the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl Sunday, many of its players now have an important decision to make. Should they go to the White House and be honored by President Trump, or should they skip the visit as a sign of protest?

Eagles defensive end Chris Long said before the game that he would not be attending the ceremony if his team won. His teammates Malcolm Jenkins and Torrey Smith joined his decision. Long skipped the visit last year after the Patriots’ comeback win, so his decision does not come as much of a surprise. In 2017, no Eagles player knelt during the national anthem, so it was surprising to see players boycotting the once prestigious visit.

What these players are doing definitely sums up how the majority of NFL players think about our leader. Regardless of my political beliefs, I think it would be pretty cool to visit the White House — even with Trump in office. At the end of the day, Super Bowl trips are hard to come by (unless you’re Tom Brady), so I would take every opportunity to celebrate my hard-earned victory.

What might be better for Long, Jenkins and Smith is to see if they could arrange a quick meeting with the president before or after the ceremony to address the problems that they have with his presidency and give Trump a chance to share his side of the story. It would definitely be more constructive than refusing to go to the White House at all. This would show NFL fans these players are not disrespecting our country. Everyone would see that both sides were trying to have an intelligent dialogue with someone they disagree with. An act like this would help ratings for both Trump and the NFL.

There was a lot of talk about protesting in the NFL this year and whether or not that should be allowed. Many people tuned their TVs to something other than football on Sundays and a subsequent ratings decline in Roger Goodell’s league was noticeable in homes and in stadiums across the country. These players are part of a multibillion-dollar industry, risking their lives for our entertainment. We should hear these players out before we write them off as unpatriotic, overpaid stars.

I think the rationale to write someone off before hearing exactly what they have to say is a major issue in this country. If a college students wants to express their ideas, they automatically get written off as liberal babies who need a safe space. If a person from an older generation speaks their mind, they are dubbed a racist Trump supporter. This rhetoric needs to stop, because quite frankly, it’s annoying. Almost no one I know can have a spirited debate on an issue without name-calling before they totally reject the other person’s view. The Eagles have a chance to show America that we can listen to both sides without things getting out of hand.

Support what you want to support — but do it in a way that is constructive for all of those around you. An issue for one person may not even be on another person’s radar, but by having real conversation, we can start to understand each other a little bit better. In the coming weeks, we will see whether these players decide to skip their celebratory trip to D.C. or not. But I hope that they can think of a more constructive way to address their issues rather than avoiding the man they think is causing problems in their lives and in their communities.

One Comment

  1. I can tell you are someone who has never experienced discrimination by your comments, male, white, straight, christian of some sort. The players don’t need to hear Trump’s side of the story, they already have when he didn’t condemn Nazis or the KKK, his racist remarks are all over the internet. Just take a look at his Cabinet. People criticize every which way Black people try to protest, whether it be silently, violently, protesting, marching, kneeling, etc. I would urge you to read up on WHY NFL players have and will continue to go to the White House. Black lives are more important than a “cool” trip to the White House.