President Trump sent a very clear message to the Philadelphia Eagles after players declared they would skip the planned White House reception honoring the Super Bowl champions.
The grandstanding players were in for a surprise when their effort to make the event about their national anthem protests brought a strong rebuke – and swift action – from the president.
“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,” Trump said in a statement on Monday, according to The Daily Caller.
“The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better,” the president continued, announcing an even better plan.
“These fans are still invited to the White House to be part of a different type of ceremony—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. I will be there at 3:00 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America,” he added.
Later Monday evening, Trump tweeted about his decision, referring to a recent rule change by the NFL that required players who do not want to stand for the anthem to remain in the locker room or else be on the field, standing in respect.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2018
“Sorry!” the president tweeted, noting that to patriotic Americans, remaining in the locker room is the equivalent of kneeling on the field during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The team released a statement after Trump’s but never mentioned the president or the White House event.
“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,” the statement read, according to NBC Sports.
Former Eagle Torrey Smith disagreed with Trump’s decision.
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
— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) June 4, 2018
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney did not take kindly to the president disinviting the Super Bowl champions, and rudely blasted Trump as a “fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size.”
“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 lead to an historic victory this year,” Kenney said in a statement, according to NBC Sports.
The Democratic mayor declared he was “proud of the Eagles’ activism off the field ” and blasted the president as “not a true patriot.”
“These are players who stand up for the causes they believe in and who contribute in meaningful ways to their community,” Kenney said.
Philly mayor Jim Kenney’s statement is pointed.
After President Trump disinvited the #Eagles to the White House, Kenney calls him “a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend.” pic.twitter.com/90pHhIR4SU
— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) June 5, 2018
“They represent the diversity of our nation–a nation in which we are free to express our opinions,” he continued. “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.”
Naturally, Pennsylvania Democrats fell right in line, acting more childish in their attempts to outdo Trump.
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? https://t.co/niWR7zkSYx
— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) June 4, 2018
— US Rep Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) June 4, 2018
The @Eagles are still welcome at my Office — come over whenever:
Harrisburg, PA 17102
We’ll celebrate your Super Bowl victory and while we are at it we can discuss criminal justice reform or whatever else is on your mind. https://t.co/82G0kkPvdR
— Josh Shapiro (@JoshShapiroPA) June 4, 2018
But Republican Lou Barletta, who represents Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District and is running for U.S. Senate, made no bones about where he would be on Tuesday.
I’ll be at the White House tomorrow representing the proud Pennsylvanians who stand for our flag. ????????
— Lou Barletta (@louforsenate) June 5, 2018