The Philadelphia Eagles may have been uninvited from the White House by President Donald Trump but they got another offer in its place: the mayor of Philadelphia is inviting the Eagles to City Hall instead. The mayor made the gesture after the president said the Eagles weren't welcome after several members of the team decided to skip the visit.
In a statement, the mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, wrote:
The Eagles call the birthplace of 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.
The mayor posted his response to Twitter and talked about the importance of the freedom of speech.
The president's invitation withdrawal stems from controversy over whether players should stand during the national anthem. In May, the National Football League (NFL) announced it would be mandatory for athletes to stand or possibly face fines. This policy came after a season in which a number of players took a knee to protest what many believe is an unfair, oppressive system against people of color. The president called off the celebration after many of the players and coaches said they would boycott the White House visit after Trump demanded that all players stand, according to The New York Times. In President Trump's statement about his decision to take back the invitation, he said the fans "deserve better" than the small group of Eagles — fewer than 10 — who would show up.
"The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow," Trump said in a statement. "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."
Late Monday night, after Kenney announced his City Hall invitation, Trump had this to say on Twitter.
It's become a sort of tradition for the president to invite professional sports champions for a White House visit as a part of their victory celebrations. While this isn't the first time drama over sports champions coming to the White House has come up, the invitation withdrawal is a first by Trump. In 2017, the NBA champs Golden State Warriors rejected an invitation from the president to visit the White House. A few of the New England Patriots also refused to go after winning Super Bowl 51.
This latest skirmish between the president and NFL players is the result of something Trump started last year, when he criticized the former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick, who kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality. Now, it's clearer than ever that the strain has only gotten worse.