The last thing Donald Trump wanted was someone kneeling during the national anthem of his planned event, “Celebration of America,” but that was precisely what transpired. An unknown gentleman took a knee and then quickly departed after the song was over. He declined to comment and refused to give his name.
Jesper Zolck, a reporter for TV2 in Denmark, took a picture of the unknown man kneeling. Zolck also noticed that the man left the function quickly after it ended, refusing to talk with anyone. The event was in place of what would have been the traditional presidential welcome of the 2017 Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles. Trump chose not to invite the champions to the White House, putting the blame squarely on the Eagles. The White House called the Eagles’ intention to only send a few people a “political stunt.”
Even though the small representation from the Eagles was the cited reason for the cancellation, it was the kneeling that Trump stressed. “Trump highlighted the team’s participation in national anthem protests, as well, igniting the discussion over the controversial practice,” reported The Hill.
At The White House. One guy in the audience took a knee during the national anthem at President Trumps celebration of America no Eagles event. Left right after - didn’t wanna talk pic.twitter.com/NLRGp26gln— Jesper Zølck (@zolckTv2) June 5, 2018
It has been no secret that Trump has disliked the idea of the NFL players kneeling on the sidelines. Some believe Trump forced the new NFL policy that expects players on the sideline to stand during the national anthem, prompting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to say, “Clearly our objective as a league and to all 32 clubs, which was unanimous, is that we want people to be respectful of the national anthem,” according to the Washington Post.
The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) is currently fighting the new NFL policy. In a statement made by the association “The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values, and patriotism of our League.”
Despite Trump’s concerns, no Philadelphia Eagles player actually kneeled during the national anthem. Multiple players did say they would not attend the White House after they won the Super Bowl. They also reacted after Trump decided to pull the plug on the visit. Torrey Smith, who was a wide receiver for the Eagles, posted on his Twitter account his thoughts.
There are a lot of people on the team that have plenty of different views. The men and women that wanted to go should’ve been able to go. It’s a cowardly act to cancel the celebration because the majority of the people don’t want to see you. To make it about the anthem is foolish— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) June 4, 2018
Other Philadelphia Eagles players such as Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, and Zach Ertz were critical of the Trump administration. It also spread into the NBA. Both LeBron James (Cleveland) and Stephen Curry (Golden State) mentioned they will not go to the White House if they become champions of the sport.