On Monday, the president announced that he was canceling the annual visit that Super Bowl winning teams make to Washington, D.C. every year. Trump's statement on canceling the Philadelphia Eagles' White House visit took aim at the ongoing controversy surrounding whether or not it's permissible for players to kneel or sit during the National Anthem.
"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," the statement said. It continued, outlining plans for a different type of patriotism-related ceremony that would take place, without the Super Bowl winners in attendance:
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 and 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.
While Trump has decided to disinvite the entirety of the team, as he mentioned in his statement, many team members had opted long ago not to attend any potential White House visit.
"I don’t have a message for the president,” Eagles football safety Malcolm Jenkins told CNN back in February. "My message has been clear all year. I’m about creating positive change in the communities that I come from."
He explained that the decision was about much more than just himself:
I want to see changes in our criminal justice system. I want to see us push for economical and educational advancement in communities of color and low-income communities, and I want to see our relationships between our communities and our law enforcement be advanced. That’s what myself and my peers have been pushing for the last two years, and that’s what I’ll continue to do.
Former Eagles teammate Torrey Smith also responded to the news, tweeting that Trump's statement contained "so many lies."
"Here are some facts," Smith wrote. "1. Not many people were going to go, 2. No one refused to go simply because Trump 'insists' folks stand for the anthem, 3. The President continues to spread the false narrative that players are anti military."
This is not the first time that the NFL player has stood up to the White House. Smith expressed similar sentiments in a statement back in February.
"For me, it's not just about politics," Smith wrote. He explained:
If I told you that I was invited to a party by an individual I believe is sexist or has no respect for women or I told you that this individual has said offensive things towards many minority groups ... this individual also called my peers and my friends SOB's, you would understand why I wouldn't want to go to that party. Why is it any different when the person has title of President of the United States?
Last month, ESPN reports, Jenkins said he intended to travel to Washington, D.C. even though he didn't plan to swing by the White House.
"Over the last two years, I've been meeting with legislators, both Republican and Democrat, it don't matter," Jenkins said, according to ESPN. "If you want to meet to talk about events in my community, changing the country, I'm all for that. But this isn't one of those meetings, so I'll opt out of the photo opportunity."
Trump has long railed against sports players choosing to sit or kneel during the National Anthem. It seems likely that the story will continue to unfold.