PHILADELPHIA — They already had used their absence from the normal White House celebration. Additionally they had used social media. On Wednesday, they used their voices. Apart from Malcolm Jenkins, who used indicators.
A method or one other, the Eagles acquired their message out — singular, as a result of their particular person messages had a thread operating by means of them, that it was their collective message. Outdoors forces, led by the occupant of the White House, may need tried to make use of Tuesday’s canceled Tremendous Bowl celebration to drive wedges between individuals, however the Eagles gamers weren’t letting it both break them up or silence them.
“We have been one hundred pc unified earlier than this week, so it’s mathematically unattainable for us to be extra unified,” defensive finish Chris Lengthy stated in the midst of the locker room on the Eagles’ facility.
A few dozen lockers away, Jenkins — together with Lengthy, probably the most vocal defenders of NFL gamers’ proper to protest and one of many earliest to declare he would not go to the White House — held up indicators to the throng of reporters. One in every of them: “Chris Lengthy Gave His Complete Yr’s Wage To Instructional Initiatives.”
The gamers who spoke — and all those that have been approached did speak, even when simply briefly — met each query head-on, from the invitation rescinded by president Donald Trump, to how they have been seeing the aborted celebration portrayed, to the occasion Trump placed on as a substitute, to the conflicting accounts of who and what number of had dedicated to going.
They carried the ball the place, in various methods, their group and league let it fall to the bottom.
Workforce proprietor Jeffrey Lurie’s solely remark, a reasonably lukewarm one, got here Monday night time after the canceled journey. Common supervisor Howie Roseman has made none. Head coach Doug Pederson spent somewhat over eight minutes earlier within the day making an attempt to keep away from questions on it, outdoors of a gap assertion about how “particular” it’s for the champs to be honored on the White House.
“What you’ve seen and what you’ve heard is sufficient, and I’m not discussing it,” Pederson stated the subsequent time he was requested about it.
Nor had something been heard, at the very least by Wednesday afternoon after the Eagles completed their OTA session, from commissioner Roger Goodell in response to the president saying of the staff and its gamers, “They disagree with their president as a result of he insists that they proudly stand for the nationwide anthem,” that their choice was made with “a scarcity of excellent religion” and that they “determined to desert their followers.”
“What did he say?” Lengthy stated when requested about Goodell. Advised that he had made no remark but, Lengthy responded, “Oh, he didn’t say something? I imply, I don’t converse for the commissioner. If he doesn’t need to rise up for his gamers, that’s not actually my enterprise.
“I do know my teammates are nice males. There’s males of religion on this locker room, there’s males who serve their communities, there’s males who’ve rather a lot and provides again to individuals who have quite a bit much less, they usually don’t have to try this in any respect. So what the commissioner needs to do, that’s not my enterprise.”
“I don’t converse for the commissioner. If he doesn’t need to get up for his gamers, that’s not actually my enterprise.”
Eagles DE Chris Lengthy on Roger Goodell not commenting on Donald Trump uninviting the Eagles to the White House. pic.twitter.com/M51lqEv84w
— Sporting Information (@sportingnews) June 6, 2018
Lengthy prevented commenting on Trump himself, mentioning that he had boycotted White House celebrations as soon as earlier than as a Patriots participant, and including, “I’ve three years of quotes about Donald Trump. I don’t really feel I ought to maintain taking place that street.”
He did, nevertheless, slip in a dig about those that attended the White House occasion, whom the president insisted have been Eagles followers however who did not precisely match the traditional description.
“I don’t know,” Lengthy deadpanned. “I’ve to get on IMDb and see if I acknowledge them.”
Tight finish Zach Ertz, in the meantime, had joined a number of present and former teammates (primarily Torrey Smith, now a Panther) in condemning a Fox Information report portraying Eagles who had kneeled in prayer earlier than and after video games as having kneeled in the course of the nationwide anthem. Fox later tweeted that the misuse of the pictures was an “error.”
Citing what number of spiritual gamers are within the locker room, Ertz stated, “Truthfully, I simply needed the story to be straight whether or not they apologized to me or not. I assumed it was neat that they apologized, however I did not want an apology.”
Middle Jason Kelce echoed his teammates on how a lot they admire and respect one another regardless of the variations that usually would come from a gaggle of individuals that enormous and numerous.
“To be trustworthy, fairly frankly, I feel our nation might in all probability comply with that little extra,” he stated. “We have now an amazing group of gamers, an excellent group, a fantastic group in an awesome metropolis. We now have a particular group, as we noticed final yr, that’s as tight knit as we’re gonna get.”
As for a way the group ended up committing to, reportedly, 10 or fewer gamers to attend the ceremony earlier than the rescinding of the invitation, Kelce stated, “I feel that everyone got here at their very own choice via nevertheless they made their choice. I don’t assume anyone felt pressured both approach; I don’t assume anybody felt pressured by the staff or by different gamers.”
Ertz agreed, noting that there may be an excessive amount of being manufactured from the choice itself, that it was extra pure than it’s being perceived.
“I feel everybody on this locker room understands that everybody’s coronary heart is in the correct place, and we weren’t gonna let somebody attempt to formulate an agenda. Everybody has been handled with love and respect,” he stated, including, “Nothing’s gonna have the ability to tear this locker room aside.”
Even the swarm of media from throughout the nation for a June apply did not faze Ertz or, seemingly, the opposite Eagles.
“I’ve handled quite a bit more durable questions than the White House questions,” Ertz stated, “so it is simply one other day for me.”