Despite earlier reports that the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles would accept an invitation to visit President Trump, the White House said Monday that the team would not visit on Tuesday.
Reports indicated that the team agreed to accept the invitation to attend the White House, though a number of players had said they would not attend. On Monday, the President appeared to rescind the invitation because the whole team would not attend.
Trump also cited ongoing demonstrations during the national anthem in his reasoning to rescind the invitation. According to week-by-week reports from ESPN , cornerback Rob Brooks was the only Eagle to kneel during the anthem in 2017.
— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) June 5, 2018
Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McCloud regularly raised fists during the anthem through week 12. Jenkins stopped his demonstration after the NFL agreed to contribute $89 million over seven years toward projects that would deal with social reform. Defensive end Chris Long — a native of Charlottesville, Virginia, the sire of white nationalists rallies in 2017 — put his hand on Jenkins shoulder in solidarity.
President Trump hosted the New England Patriots following their Super Bowl victory in 2017, though not all players attended. Among those who skipped the ceremony was Long, who played for the Patriots in 2017. Quarterback Tom Brady also did not attend last year's ceremony, citing a family event.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has also been among the most supportive of player protests of any team owner, and has reportedly been outspoken in his frustration of Trump.
The President's decision comes just weeks after the NFL instituted rule changes that would fine teams whose players and personnel did not show proper respect for the anthem. Trump said the NFL had done the "right thing" at the time.
Though the Eagles won't be involved, the White House statement said the President will still host Eagles fans for an event tomorrow.
The White House's full statement can be read below.
"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 (sic), hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country. 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. I will be there at 3 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America."
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.