US President Donald Trump decided to cancel the visit of the Super Bowl winners, Philadelphia Eagles to the White House. The reason for it is the controversy over kneeling during the National Anthem that marked the previous NFL season, according to Trump.
In a statement, POTUS said: “The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow. 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.”
This is the first time the president decides to cancel the visit on any team. In 2017, the Golden State Warriors refused the invitation to come to the White House even though that has been a tradition for years. But this is nothing unusual, and some players refused to visit the White House when the other presidents were occupying it. For instance, Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas didn’t want to come in 2012 because he didn’t agree with Barack Obama’s policies.
The visit to the White House is considered to be a part of the Championship celebration. Last month, the announcement came from the league that the players will be required to stand during the national anthem from now on. The reason for their dissatisfaction was the oppression of people of color and unequal treatment they get from the police. Colin Kaepernick started the protests when he was a San Francisco 49er, and they spread all over the league with players refusing to stand during the anthem. In August 2016, he said: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Trump has criticized the players who were not respectful to the anthem, and he has urged team owners to take action. Now, the players have a choice to either stay in the locker room when the anthem is played or stand during it if they are out on the field.
Trump tweeted afterward: “The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!” The Eagles were not one of the teams that stayed in the locker room.
A lot of Eagles players took part in the protest, though, and many refuse to visit the White House because of the way Trump has dealt with the NFL protesters. Also, the players who didn’t wish to come disagreed with Trump’s policies. The invitation was sent to the Eagles after their victory over the New England Patriots in February. This is the first Super Bowl win in the history of the team. Meanwhile, Torrey Smith, former Eagles receiver called Trump’s decision to cancel the event “a cowardly act.”
In one Tweet, he said: “So many lies smh Here are some facts 1. Not many people were going to go 2. No one refused to go simply because Trump ‘insists’ folks stand for the anthem 3. The President continues to spread the false narrative that players are anti-military.”
Then he added: “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.”
One of the players said that they discussed the invitation at team meetings and added: “The number was low.” However, the anthem is not one of the big reasons why players refuse to go to the White House. According to one NFL source, none of the Eagles players took a knee when the anthem was played. One did, but he was cut in the preseason. Safety Malcolm Jenkins raised his fist on several occasions, but he stopped in November after the NFL announced to make a $100 million donation to various charities.
Meanwhile, a Pennsylvania Democrat invited the Eagles to visit the Congress. He wrote: “I’m proud of what the @Eagles accomplished this year. I’m skipping this political stunt at the White House and just invited the Eagles to Congress. @Eagles How about a tour of the Capitol?”
According to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Trump’s decision only “proves that our President is not a true patriot.” Kenney added: “The Eagles call the birthplace of our democracy home, so it’s no surprise that this team embodies everything that makes our country and our city great. Their athletic accomplishments on the field led to a historic victory this year.”
He also remarked in the statement: “Disinviting them from the White House only proves that our President is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend. City Hall is always open for a celebration.”
Trump canceled the invitation to the Eagles, but he invited the fans who are willing to partake in a “different kind of ceremony.” The President added: “One that will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem.”