WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — President Donald Trump has called off the Philadelphia Eagles’ White House visit for Tuesday, CBS3 confirms.
Trump says in a statement that some members of the Super Bowl championship team “disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart.” He says he’ll instead be hosting “a different type of ceremony” with the U.S. Marine Band.
“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 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 3:00 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America,” Trump’s full statement read.
The president continued his comments on Twitter, saying, “Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event.”
Sources tell CBS3 that “less than a handful” of players actually signed up to go meet with the president.
The Eagles did not mention the president or the White House in their response to the cancellation, saying in a statement, “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.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney called out Trump, releasing this statement on the cancellation:
“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 led to an historic victory this year. Fans all across the country rallied behind them because we like to root for the underdog and we feel joy when we see the underdogs finally win. I’m equally proud of the Eagles’ activism off the field. These are players who stand up for the causes they believe in and who contribute in meaningful ways to their community. They represent the diversity of our nation—a nation in which we are free to express our opinions.
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,” said Kenney.
A few players have previously said they would not attend the White House ceremony, including Chris Long, Malcolm Jenkins and Brandon Graham.
“So many lies,” said former Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith on Twitter moments after the White House released the statement.
“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,” Smith added.
Sen. Bob Casey reacted to the announcement tweeting: “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?”
The NFL recently announced a new policy requiring players to stand for the anthem if they’re on the field before a game. Trump had suggested players who kneel be fired.