Eagles to visit White House but attendance 'individual decision'
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Los Angeles (AFP)
The Philadelphia Eagles confirmed they will visit President Donald Trump at the White House next month but head coach Doug Pederson said Tuesday it would be left to individual players to decide whether they wished to attend.
The White House confirmed last week that an invitation had been extended to the Eagles to attend what has become a traditional reception of the Super Bowl champions hosted by the president at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
However this year's visit comes after a tumultuous 2017 season which saw Trump trigger a series of furious assaults on mostly black NFL players who kneeled during the national anthem to draw attention to social injustice.
The Eagles' ranks contain several prominent figures from the NFL player protest movement, and some including safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Chris Long, have already indicated they planned not to attend.
"Nah, I personally do not anticipate attending," Jenkins said in February following the Eagles' Super Bowl win over the New England Patriots.
Long, who donated his entire 2017 salary to charities linked to educational projects, also ruled out participating.
"No, I'm not going to the White House. Are you kidding me?" Long said.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has also been critical of Trump, and reportedly described his presidency as "disastrous" according to a New York Times report last month.
Eagles coach Pederson meanwhile told reporters on Tuesday that the team was looking forward to heading to the White House.
"We're excited to be going," Pederson said. "At the same time, it's an individual decision (for the players)."
The Eagles attendance comes after a rift between Trump and the NBA champion Golden State Warriors earlier this year.
Trump had withdrawn an invitation to the team to attend after star Stephen Curry and other players indicated a reluctance to attend.
The Warriors instead took a group of children on a visit to Washington's National Museum of African American History and Culture.
© 2018 AFP