When discussing his team’s theoretical Super Bowl win prior to Sunday’s big game, Eagles defensive end Chris Long was unequivocal when asked if he planned on visiting the White House.
“No, I’m not going to the White House,” Long told Sports Illustrated. “Are you kidding me?”
As USA Today’s “For The Win” noted, the question rose again when Boris Epshteyn, a former adviser to President Donald Trump, asked the player on Twitter why he wouldn’t be visiting the White House.
“This makes no sense to me. If you disagree with @realDonaldTrump and have something to say, why miss likely the only opportunity you will have to express that to him in person?” the onetime adviser asked, tagging Long. “I wouldn’t support players boycotting a visit to the WH no matter which party held it.”
Long took Epshteyn to task, asking him if he has proof of that stance when he was “remarking on James Harrison or Tim Thomas skipping a trip to Obama’s White House?”
Can you produce receipt of you remarking on James Harrison or Tim Thomas skipping a trip to Obama’s White House?
— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) February 6, 2018
After the adviser continued to push the question, Long, a native of Charlottesville, Virginia, brought up Trump’s statements following the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in the Virginia city last August.
“Who were the fine people on the side of the Nazis and KKK that gathered in my hometown the day a terrorist put 20 ppl [sic] in the hospital?” the defensive end tweeted. “Why reference the hatred and bigotry on ‘many sides’ that day? Why didn’t you immediately denounce them?”
Undeterred, Epshteyn accused Long of “posturing” and said he could engage in a “productive dialogue” with his former boss, which the player immediately shut down.
“The lack of condemnation of said groups is either a calculated omission to pander to an ugly corner of our country OR he agrees with those folks,” he wrote.
USA Today noted that Long is joined by teammates Malcolm Jenkins and Torrey Smith, the latter of which told CNN that his decision to abstain from the traditional White House visit for Super Bowl winners goes beyond politics.
“For me, it’s not just about politics,” Smith said. “This isn’t something that I personally feel inclined to be involved with…I respect the office, but often times we hold our athletes and entertainers to higher standards than we hold the President of the United States. To me it’s about doing the right thing, it’s not about choosing sides or anything, it’s simply about right and wrong.”