Sidestepping political debate, Super Bowl champion QB says he’s honored to visit the White House
For many high-profile athletes, a visit to the White House after a championship season is no longer just a prestigious photo op. Under the Trump administration, every crowning of a champion leads to a media debate about what teams or players should do.
Does a visit to take a picture with President Donald Trump signal an endorsement of all he’s said and done? Should players attempt to use that time to deliver a political message to the president? Is skipping the visit altogether an effective protest?
So players are repeatedly asked their thoughts on the subject, and the media compare pictures of Trump’s crowd versus Obama’s crowd, and people forget that the whole thing was only ever supposed to be a fun experience for athletes, many of whom would never otherwise have an opportunity to go to the White House, or for presidents who are big sports fans.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz took a different approach this year, brushing aside fans and observers from both sides who would rather Wentz make himself a vehicle for their political agenda.
“I think it’s just a cool way to receive the honor nationally and be recognized,” Wentz said of the scheduled June 5 visit, according to KYW-TV. “I don’t view it as a political thing whatsoever. I don’t really mess with politics very often. I will be involved in going.”
Wentz, who suffered a knee injury before the playoffs, watched from the sidelines as the Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII.
Wentz’s comments on the White House visit start at about the 30-minute mark:
Of course, not all the players will attend. And that’s fine. Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long and Torrey Smith have publicly stated they won’t be going to the White House during the team’s D.C. visit.
“I think there are some other things on the list of places that are visited on the trip to D.C.,” Jenkins said last week. “I personally won’t be going to the White House but I will be with the team.”
Still, Wentz’s casual stance on the issue gives some hope that, even in divided political times, simple pleasantries can be treated as such without being weaponized for political conflict.