President Donald Trump on Monday night disinvited the Philadelphia Eagles from joining him at the White House, blasting members of the Super Bowl champions for not agreeing with his policy of standing for the national anthem.
“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,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House press office. “The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better.”
Trump has repeatedly attacked players who choose to kneel or protest during the national anthem as unpatriotic, and applauded the decision by the NFL to fine teams for the upcoming season if any of their players refuse to stand during the anthem. Players can stay in the locker room, but if they are on the field they must stand. The NFL Players Association said the league did not consult the organization before implementing the policy.
Trump said that instead of welcoming the Eagles to the White House on Tuesday, he would hold a ceremony for the team’s fans that will “pay tribute to the heroes” in the nation’s military and “loudly and proudly play the National Anthem.”
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins raised his fist during the anthem for much of the 2017 season, continuing a trend that began with the move by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has since left the team, to kneel during the anthem as a way to protest racial inequality and police brutality. Chris Long, an Eagles defensive lineman, decided to donate his entire salary to educational charities after the violence surrounding white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year.
Jenkins said last month that the Trump administration’s policies made it inappropriate to celebrate at the White House.
“There is so much that has been swirling around that administration,” he said, “I don’t see it as beneficial at this moment in time to visit in a celebratory fashion.”
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