Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith said on Wednesday he will skip a White House reception if his team win the Super Bowl following the NFL's season of protest. Smith, one of several Eagles players who demonstrated during the US national anthem this season following a bitter feud with President Donald Trump, said he would not visit Washington if the Eagles win Sunday's showpiece.
Trump triggered uproar in September after describing players who kneeled during the anthem as "sons of bitches" who should be fired.
Smith, the son of a US military serviceman, protested along with team-mates Malcolm Jenkins and Brandon Graham by raising a fist at several games this season.
On Wednesday he clarified the nature of his protest."They call it the anthem protest," Smith said. "We're not protesting the anthem. It's a protest during the anthem. I understand why people are mad or may be offended when someone takes a knee. I really understand that."
"My father when he dies, he's going to be buried with an American flag draped around his casket, being that he served in the army. I understand why some people are offended by it. Also, there are soldiers who have issues going on right now, and they are things that affect them. They're things that affect my father. He understands both sides of the issue."
Trump made a veiled reference to players refusing to stand for the anthem during Tuesday's State of the Union address in Washington.
Smith said he had watched parts of the speech.
"I saw some of the highlights," he told reporters. "I wasn't impressed. Taking credit for a lot of things that were already in motion," Smith said, confirming he would not attend the White House. Although Eagles players have stopped protesting following talks between the league and players, the Philadelphia locker-room remained a politically charged environment.
"We read the news just like everyone else," Smith said.
"You see Donald Trump tweet something ... We have those conversations in the locker room, just like everyone else does in the workplace."
Smith meanwhile spoke admiringly of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who launched his protests against social injustice in 2016 but has now been effectively frozen out of the league.
"Kap, in my opinion, was a genius by doing what he did," Smith said.I've had conversations with Kaepernick plenty of times. I said 'You think you're going to change it? Because some people are going to use the fact that they're upset about you kneeling and protesting during the anthem, and they're going to completely ignore every single thing that you're doing that's positive.'
"Which is true. Kaepernick has still done his work, and people still choose to ignore that."