- The White House disinvited the Philadelphia Eagles from its traditional post-championship visit on Monday after some players indicated they would not be attending.
- While the Eagles were prepared to send a smaller delegation, the White House instead chose to cancel their invitation altogether.
- In 2017, several Patriots players chose to skip the visit, both because of disagreements with Trump as well as “personal family matters,” but the visit still went on as scheduled.
- Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney fired back at the decision, calling President Donald Trump “a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size.”
The White House appears to have disinvited the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles from their ceremonial visit.
“The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow,” the White House said in a statement on Monday. “They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honour of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”
An official statement from the team Monday night made no mention of Trump’s comments:
“It has been incredibly thrilling to celebrate our first Super Bowl Championship. Watching the entire Eagles community come together has been an inspiration. We are truly grateful for all of the support we have received, and we are looking forward to continuing our preparations for the 2018 season.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney was less charitable in his statement, saying in part: “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.”
Back in April, the Eagles had said that the team had not yet accepted the invitation from the White House, but were actively discussing it. “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,” a spokesman said at the time.
The Eagles were prepared to attend with a smaller group of players, but the White House claimed that “the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better,” and decided to disinvite the Eagles altogether.
“These fans are still invited to the White House to be part of a different type of ceremony-one that will honour our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem,” the statement read.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, a large group of Eagles players, including most – if not all – black players on the team, had indicated that they would skip the ceremony. ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio also reported that the White House did not inform the Eagles of the decision and the team found out when the statement was released.
Several Philadelphia players participated in the ongoing protests against police brutality and racial injustice that became a dominant story throughout the 2017 season. While no Eagles knelt, some of them took part by either raising fists or linking arms as the anthem played before their games. Four players had already said they did not plan on attending the White House ceremony.
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins explained his reasoning for skipping the event back in February. “I don’t want to take away from anybody’s experience or make it a big distraction,” Jenkins said. “It’s a celebratory event, and I want the guys who choose to go or whatever to enjoy that. Me personally, because it’s not a meeting or a sit-down or anything like that, I’m just not interested in the photo op.”
Last year, several players on the New England Patriots skipped the annual White House visit for an assortment of reasons.Patriots safety Devin McCourty said that he didn’t feel accepted in the White House, while quarterback Tom Brady skipped out on the photo op for “personal family matters.”
Even with some players publicly criticising Trump at the time, the White House still hosted the Patriots. That will not be the case with the Eagles.
Read Mayor Kenney’s full statement below:
“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 an historic victory this year. Fans all across the country rallied behind them because we like to root for the underdog and we feel joy when we see the underdogs finally win. I’m equally proud of the Eagles’ activism off the field. These are players who stand up for the causes they believe in and who contribute in meaningful ways to their community. They represent the diversity of our nation-a nation in which we are free to express our opinions.
“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.”
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