- The Philadelphia Eagles have received an invitation to visit the White House after winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history, but have yet to decide whether or not they will accept the invite.
- The NFL was one of President Trump’s favourite targets over the 2017 season in response to the protest against police violence, which some of the Eagles players participated.
- If the Eagles accept the invitation, it is likely the team will attempt to use the visit as a time to engage the president, rather than a mere photo opportunity.
The Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl in franchise history in February, but their participation in a championship tradition – a visit to the White House – remains in question.
On Monday, the Eagles said in a statement that the team has received the White House’s invitation but did not commit to making the trip.
“We have been in contact with White House representatives and are currently discussing the logistics of an upcoming visit to Washington,” a spokesman for the Eagles said on Monday,according to the New York Times. “We are honored to receive this invitation and view this not only as an opportunity to be recognised for our on-field accomplishments but also as an opportunity to engage in productive dialogue with the leaders of our country.”
Notably, the statement claims that the Eagles have received – not accepted – the invitation. ESPN’s Ian Rapoport went on to say that the team had not yet decided what to do but were discussing the matter.
On the other side of the equation, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said “We hope to have something finalised in the next couple of weeks,” when asked about the potential visit.
While that sounds hopeful, there’s reason to think that the Eagles might not be keen on meeting with the Trump White House. Two players – Chris Long and LeGarrette Blount – already skipped a visit last year after winning the Super Bowl with the Patriots, and others have indicated that they would skip the trip as well should the team decide to move forward.
Additionally, team owner Jeffrey Lurie has apparently been quite clear with the team that he’s not a fan of the 45th president. Per the New York Times:
“Another fact I want to throw out there: Many of us have no interest in supporting President Trump,” Mr. Lurie said, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The New York Times. “Yes, there are some. There are some players who do, too. But this is not where you brandish a group of people because they own assets in a sport we love, supporting what many of us perceive as, you know, one disastrous presidency,” he said, using a vulgarity to emphasise “disastrous,” then adding: “Don’t quote me.”
It’s no surprise that the Eagles might be hesitant to accept an invitation. Throughout the 2017 NFL season, the league was a favourite target of President Trump.
The ongoing drama began when Trump derided NFL players who chose to kneel during the national anthem to protest police violence against black people.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now, out – he’s fired!’,” Trump said.
Teams, players, and commissioner Roger Goodell responded with statements defending players’ right to kneel, and then across the league teams showed a unified response to Trump in the week that followed. Eagles Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins was especially outspoken regarding Trump’s comments and conduct.
This isn’t the first time controversy has arisen out of a potential visit to the White House. The Warriors made headlines after declining to go to the White House after their 2017 NBA Championship, prompting President Trump to tweet that he was rescinding the invitation, which led to LeBron James calling the sitting president a “bum.”
Also, while the Houston Astros accepted their invitation after their 2017 World Series victory, it was clear that the whole team was not thrilled with the day’s festivities, with reigning MVP Jose Altuve appearing uncomfortable throughout.
It’s still unclear whether or not the Eagles will accept their invitation to the White House, but if they do, it sounds like they will focus on making the trip more than just a glorified photo shoot.
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