It’s Super Bowl week, which means among other things that it’s time to ask players involved if they plan to accompany their team to the White House, should that team win it all.

Philadelphia’s Chris Long didn’t even wait to assert that, with President Trump in office, he would not want to make the trip.

“No, I’m not going to the White House,” Long said. “Are you kidding me?”

Long didn’t specify Trump as the reason he would decline an invitation to join the Eagles on a possible White House visit, but he didn’t have to, given his comments last year.

At that time, Long was a member of the champion New England Patriots, with whom he will play against Sunday, and he joined several teammates in declining the trip, although not all for political reasons.

In an April video looking back at the Patriots’ comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl, Long said, “(When) my son grows up, and I believe the legacy of our president is going to be what it is, I don’t want him to say, ‘Hey Dad, why’d you go (to the White House) when you knew the right thing was to not go?’ “


With Philadelphia this season, Long made shows of support for teammate Malcolm Jenkins when the latter was raising his fist during the national anthem, as part of the NFL players’ protests against racial injustice that were sharply criticized by Trump.

“If you don’t see why you need allies for people that are fighting for equality right now, I don’t think you’ll ever see it,” Long said in August. “So my thing is, Malcolm is a leader, and I’m here to show support as a white athlete.”

Around that time, Long’s home town of Charlottesville, Virginia, was roiled by white nationalists, including a man who killed a woman and injured several other anti-bigotry protesters. Long was critical of Trump’s response, which included the president saying that there “were very fine people, on both sides” and being slow to specifically condemn racist activism.

“For me, being from Charlottesville, no one wants to see you sit idly by and watch that stuff happen and not say anything,” Long said then. “And I wish there was more categorical denial from some very important people in this country who have had the opportunity to strike it down but didn’t.”

In his own response to the events in Charlottesville, Long donated his first six weeks’ salary to fund scholarships there. The 32-year-old defensive end subsequently decided to donate the rest of this season’s game checks to charity, as well, earmarking them for organizations that support educational equity in Philadelphia, St. Louis and Boston, the NFL cities in which he has played.

When the Patriots visited the White House in April, quarterback Tom Brady, who had shown support for Trump in the past but said he wanted to spend that day with his family, was conspicuously absent.


Patriots: QB Tom Brady had an encouraging report on his injured passing hand.

“It is getting better,” Brady said Tuesday. “It is not quite where quite where I want to be, so I am trying to protect it the best way I can.”

Brady injured his right hand during practice on Jan. 17, reportedly in a handoff exchange with running back Rex Burkhead. According to NFL Network, he had 12 stitches that have since been removed.

“I want to be as healthy as possible for the game on Sunday,” Brady said.

n Brady hopes he doesn’t have any close encounters with Chris Long, the Eagles defensive end who played on New England’s title team last year.

“I hope he doesn’t hit me too hard if he gets a shot, and hope he respects his elders out there,” Brady said.


Jaguars: Quarterback Blake Bortles had surgery on his right wrist to fix a problem that kept him on the injury report all season.

Bortles dealt with the issue in his throwing wrist throughout the season. He appeared on the injury report every week but did not miss a practice or a game.

Jacksonville picked up the fifth-year option in Bortles’ rookie contract last year, guaranteeing him $19 million in 2018 if he’s on Jacksonville’s roster the first day of the league year in March.

TITANS: Tennessee hired Matt LaFleur as offensive coordinator and Dean Pees as defensive coordinator.

LaFleur was the offensive coordinator for the Rams in 2017. The Rams led the NFL in scoring. Pees, 68, is coming out of retirement after eight seasons with Baltimore, the last six as defensive coordinator.

Panthers: Two-time All-Pro center Ryan Kalil plans to retire after the 2018 season.

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