Less than 24 hours before the Philadelphia Eagles were scheduled to go to the White House, Donald Trump has pulled the plug on their visit.
The NFL team was set to celebrate their Super Bowl LII victory with the president during a presentation on the South Lawn. Many players, including safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Chris Long, publicly expressed their dislike for Trump ahead of the presidential event.
“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.
“The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better. 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,” he continued in the statement.
Trump concluded, “I will be there at 3:00 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America.”
A few hours before Trump’s statement was released, several local news outlets reported that some team members would be attending. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie met with the players and gave them the option to attend or decline, according to the Eagles Wire.
Super Bowl LII MVP and quarterback Carson Wentz previously said he would attend if most of his teammates planned on going.
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Has the Eagles attended, they would have been the first team to visit Trump since he made comments about NFL players refusing to stand for the national anthem last fall.
In May, the league instituted a national-anthem policy that removes a requirement for players to be on the field for the anthem and gives players the option to stay in the locker room. However, teams will be fined for any personnel that “do not show proper respect for the flag and Anthem” on the sidelines.
Following the announcement, Trump said those who didn’t “stand proudly” for the national anthem “shouldn’t be playing.”
“You shouldn’t be there,” Trump said in an interview with FOX & Friends. “Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem and the NFL owners did the right thing.”
The Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33 to win the franchise’s first-ever Lombardi Trophy.