President Donald Trump cancelled a planned event with the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday over ongoing protest in NFL’s of the National Anthem. The team had been invited to celebrate their Super Bowl victory this year. The White House issued a statement announcing the cancellation of the event last night.
“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,” the statement read.
“The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better,” it added.
The President instead participated in an event with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus, a celebration of the American flag the White House said. The 1,000 or so Eagles fans who had been invited, and cleared by security to attend the original event were invited to the alternate event and many attended.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a follow-up statement today clarifying the developments.
According to Sanders, the Eagles originally notified the White House on May 31 that 81 members of the organization – including players, coaches and management personnel – would be attending. Last Friday the organization called the White House and attempted to reschedule the event, citing the fact that many players would not attend.
The White House, despite sensing a lack of good faith Sanders said, decided to work with the Eagles to accommodate the smaller group of players. But then the Eagles notified the White House again that many players would not attend the event despite being in Washington and that the Eagles would send only a small number of representatives.
“In other words, the vast majority of the Eagles team decided to abandon their fans,” the statemen read. “Upon learning these facts, the President decided to change the event…”
It was reported that fewer than ten players committed to visiting the White House.
NFL players have been kneeling during the National Anthem in pre-game ceremonies since 2016 to protest social injustice in the U.S., especially in communities of color.
President Trump inserted the issue into national politics when he referred to players who knelt as “sons of bitches” last year. He also said he would fire any player that participated in such a protest if he were an NFL owner.
The comments fueled a backlash by NFL fans who find the protests unpatriotic. In response, the NFL recently instituted a new policy calling for all team personnel, including players, to stand as the National Anthem is played before games.
Players can remain in their locker rooms while the Anthem is being played if they wish to protest, but if they are on the field and kneel or otherwise protest the flag or the playing of the Anthem, their teams will be fined.
In remarks delivered to the crowd from the White House’s South Lawn today, the President called the National Anthem a symbol of one’s love for country, veterans and fellow countrymen.
“I want to take this opportunity to explain why young Americans stand for the National Anthem…We stand to honor our military and to honor our country and to remember the fallen heroes who never made it back home. We stand to show our love for our fellow citizens and…to pay tribute to the incredible Americans who came before us and the heroic sacrifices they made,” the President said.
“America is a great nation, a community, a family. And America’s our home and we love our home, and our country has never done better than it’s doing right now. Never.”
Photo via The White House