The announcement was made just one day before the team was scheduled to arrive at the White House to celebrate their 2018 Super Bowl Championship. In the official statement, Trump said the visit was canceled in light of the disagreement the team had with his decision to insist that they stand for the National Anthem at all NFL games.
Although the NBA champion Golden State Warriors declined an invitation to visit with Trump last year, this is the first time that the cancelation was initiated by the president. Following the official announcement, Trump later tweeted that because only a few players had planned on attending the event anyway, he decided to cancel the reception and recognition. Trump went to say that remaining in the locker room during the playing of the anthem is as disrespectful to the military and country as taking a knee on the field.
The rescinding of the invitation comes after last month’s NFL announcement that players that choose not to stand during the playing of the National Anthem prior to the start of each game will be required to stay in the locker room until after the anthem has concluded. The announcement followed months of controversy in which many NFL players chose to kneel on the field during the anthem performance as a form of peaceful protest against what some saw as the oppression of people of color. The issue intensified when Trump became involved and criticized players who chose to not stand for the anthem.
Sources close to the Eagles said that very few players were planning to attend the ceremony. Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, instead invited those players in town to come and take a tour of the US Capitol instead, while expressing his pride in what the team accomplished this year in winning the franchise’s first Super Bowl. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said that Trump’s decision to cancel the event at the last minute proved that he was not a true patriot.
Instead of the previously planned recognition ceremony, Trump said the event will now honor the military and celebrate America.