President Donald Trump has canceled the Philadelphia Eagles’ visit to the White House in celebration of their Super Bowl victory because not all players planned to attend.
In a statement released Monday evening by the Office of the Press Secretary, Trump said that the Eagles “are unable to come to the White House with their full team”:
Trump has just issued this statement about the Philadelphia Eagles' visit tomorrow: pic.twitter.com/ERm042RzwS
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) June 4, 2018
“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 statement read.
The team was supposed to meet Trump Tuesday.
Instead of the usual ceremony that sees the champions of a major sports league have a photo op with the president, the focus will be on Philadelphia fans who planned to attend.
Defensive ends Chris Long and Brandon Graham and safety Malcolm Jenkins were among the handful of players who planned not to make the trip to Washington.
No Eagles players actually sat or knelt for the anthem during the regular season or playoffs in 2017. Jenkins raised his fist as a form of protest, but stopped doing so in November after the NFL and the players’ coalition agreed to a $90 million social justice initiative.
Trump also revoked the Golden State Warriors’ invitation to the White House last season when their star player, Steph Curry, said he would not want to go.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is a critic of Trump. According to a transcript leaked to the New York Times in April, Lurie said in a closed-door meeting with team owners that “many of us have no interest in supporting President Trump” and called his administration “one disastrous presidency.”
The NFL Network reported Lurie wanted to send fewer than 10 members of the Eagles to the White House, which “did not please Donald Trump.”
Torrey Smith, who played on the Eagles’ Super Bowl-winning squad but was traded to Carolina in March, responded on Twitter, saying that “no one refused to go simply because Trump ‘insists’ folks stand for the anthem.”
Official statements from the President used to be serious thoughtful expressions of national interest. Now they are childish rants. The latest—if some of the SB champs don’t want to come to the WH, then none of them are invited. POTUS will play with his toys alone tomorrow
— Joe Lockhart (@joelockhart) June 4, 2018
The Patriots visited Trump’s White House in 2017, and though not every player attended, it did not appear to have anything to do with political or patriotic disagreements. The Pittsburgh Penguins, Houston Astros and some college teams have also followed through on invitations after winning championships during Trump’s term.
Matthew Paras contributed to this report.
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