The Philadelphia Eagles will not be visiting the White House to celebrate their victory at this year’s Super Bowl, President Donald Trump confirmed earlier on Monday.
In a statement quoted by CNN, Trump explained the reasons why he decided to disinvite the Eagles from the customary White House visit extended to championship teams from major U.S. sports leagues each year. He added that he went through with his decision even as the Eagles were planning to send a “smaller delegation” of players.
“The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow,” Trump said in a statement. “They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country. The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better.”
With the Philadelphia Eagles’ White House visit officially canceled, Trump added in his statement that fans who were interested in seeing the past year’s NFL champions could still visit and take part in an alternative ceremony, one which the president said “will honor our great country,” as well as the “heroes who fight to protect it.” This ceremony, Trump added, would feature the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus “loudly and proudly” playing the “Star-Spangled Banner” at 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
According to TMZ, the Philadelphia Eagles were supposed to visit the White House on Tuesday, but with several team mainstays skipping the ceremony in protest of the president’s negative comments about NFL players and other athletes who choose to kneel during the singing of the national anthem.
Philadelphia Eagles are 'unable' to attend White House celebration because they 'disagree' with Trump on the national anthem, statement says https://t.co/LRcQg3kvKA
— TIME (@TIME) June 5, 2018
As reported by the Inquisitr last month, defensive end Chris Long was one of the more prominent Eagles who turned down Donald Trump’s White House invitation, just as he did the previous year when he was playing for the Super Bowl LI-winning New England Patriots. Safety Malcolm Jenkins also cited his criticism of Trump and his administration as a reason for choosing not to attend the ceremonies, and was previously quoted as saying that he is “passionate” about not visiting the White House. A third player, Torrey Smith, also made his intention to skip the White House visit public before he was traded to the Carolina Panthers in March.
CNN‘s report likewise described the Eagles as being among the NFL’s most outspoken “social justice activist” teams, due to the number of players who joined the wave of national anthem protests that started when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the “Star-Spangled Banner” in the 2016 NFL season.
The cancellation of the Philadelphia Eagles’ White House visit marks the second time in one year that Trump has disinvited a major U.S. sports team due to some members rejecting the invitation, or even just hesitating to attend the festivities. In September 2017, the president canceled the Golden State Warriors’ scheduled visit as NBA champions, due to what he saw as “hesitation” on superstar guard Stephen Curry’s part, according to a report from CBS Sports.