President Donald Trump rescinded an invitation to the Philadelphia Eagles to commemorate their Super Bowl LII victory over the New England Patriots at the White House on Tuesday.
CNN’s Phil Mattingly shared a statement from the White House indicating the two parties disagreed over Trump’s insistence NFL players stand for the national anthem on the sideline prior to games:
Phil Mattingly @Phil_Mattingly
The Philadelphia Eagles will no longer have team representatives at the White House tomorrow: https://t.co/YxxDdR2SPp
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo offered more information on how the Eagles planned on having a smaller group of players and team officials travel to Washington, D.C.:
Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo
The Eagles held meetings with their players in recent weeks and, according to sources, Jeff Lurie didn’t want to put the players in a tough spot so he decided to send a smaller contingent. Other players were going to have an optional day at the facility. Now, no trip to D.C.
Garafolo also reported the Eagles had decided on a group of fewer than 10 representatives to attend the White House ceremony. Former Eagle Torrey Smith, who was a part of the Super Bowl-winning team, responded to Trump’s decision:
Torrey Smith @TorreySmithWR
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 https://t.co/89GUNhJ4eE
This would’ve been the second year the Super Bowl champions sent a smaller delegation to the White House. A number of prominent stars, including Tom Brady, Martellus Bennett, Dont’a Hightower and LeGarrette Blount, were absent when the New England Patriots traveled to the nation’s capital in 2017.
The NFL recently enacted a new policy regarding the national anthem that requires players to stand for the anthem if they’re present on the sidelines. Players can opt instead to remain in the locker room until the anthem concludes.
The move came after Trump was vocal in his criticism of the protest movement sparked by free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He said last fall he hoped NFL owners would punish players who knelt during the anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!'” Trump told supporters during a rally in September.
The New York Times‘ Ken Belson and Mark Leibovich reported NFL owners had a meetingalong with NFL executives and player representativesabout a month after Trump’s comments. According to Belson and Leibovich, owners were ” intent on finding a way to avoid Trump’s continued criticism.”