On Jun. 4 President Donald Trump disinvited the Philadelphia Eagles from visiting the White House for a Super Bowl victory celebration. The abrupt White House announcement came after nearly the entire team said they intended to boycott the celebration that was scheduled to take place the next day.
“The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow,” Trump said in a statement released Monday evening. “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.”
Since Sept. 2016, some National Football League players have gained national attention for kneeling during the anthem before games in protest. 49ers player Eric Reid, writing in an op-ed, said the kneeling is meant to spotlight the issues of "systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system."
Several Eagles players' decisions not to attend the scheduled celebration before the official cancellation were in response to Trump's insistence that NFL players stand during the national anthem before games.
In place of the celebration, the White House hosted a ten-minute event that included a performance of the national anthem by the United States Marine Band and the Army Chorus.
Trump spoke briefly without mentioning the Eagles once. He instead implored Americans to always stand for the national anthem.
“We love our country, we respect our flag and we always proudly stand for the national anthem,” Trump said at the event. “We stand to honor our military and to honor our country and to remember the fallen heroes who never made it back home.”
The Eagles were the first NFL team to win the Super Bowl following Trump's first public criticism of players' protest of the national anthem in Sept. 2017.
Minutes before Tuesday's replacement event, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused the Eagles of preforming a "political stunt" by boycotting the celebration before Trump even considered cancelling it, according to the New York Times.
The White House also put out an official statement echoing Sanders' sentiments.
"Unfortunately, the Eagles offered to send only a tiny handful of representatives, while making clear that the great majority of players would not attend the event, despite planning to be in D.C. today," the statement read. "In other words, the vast majority of the Eagles team decided to abandon their fans."
The cancellation of the celebration also comes just weeks after the NFL's team owners established a new policy in Late May, prohibiting players from kneeling kneel during the national anthem. The NFL Players Association criticized the policy on twitter, alleging that it violates their first amendment right to peacefully protest.
Several New England Patriots players, including quarterback Tom Brady, did not attend their White House celebration last year, although a vast majority of the team was in attendance. According to the New York Times, several players who skipped event said they did so because they disapproved of Trump's policies and behavior.
Jeffrey Lurie, owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, donated $2,700 to Hillary for America, a group that supported Hillary Clinton's campaign for president, in 2015, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Lurie also publicly supported players who chose to protest the anthem, the New York Times reported.
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