So much for the party.
United States President Donald Trump announced in a statement on Monday evening that he has uninvited the team to a ceremony at the White House celebrating their Super Bowl LII victory over the New England Patriots in February.
It once again boils down to the hot-button issue of the national anthem, a topic that has cast a divide through the NFL, its hierarchy and its fans.
From President’s statement:
“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 ad 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.”
The Eagles will not be the first major sports champion that will be visiting the White House under the Trump administration. The Golden State Warriors and University of South Carolina women’s basketball team chose not to appear on Pennsylvania Ave.
The Patriots, Houston Astros, and Alabama Crimson Tide football team have.
Players in the NFL have been the most outspoken about demonstrations during the national anthem, which was thrust to the forefront of national conversation when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to kneel during the anthem in 2016.
It set off a chain reaction of athletes across the NFL, then other leagues, taking part in similar practices whether it be kneeling, linking arms or raising fists in an attempt to take a stand against police brutality in the United States.
Among the Eagles, cornerback Malcolm Jenkins was one of the most vocal leaders of this movement, regularly raising his fist during the anthem. He was among the first to announce that he would not attend the White House.
“For me, there’s a lot going on with that administration, and I don’t think it’s the time to really have any productive or constructive conversations about policy,” Jenkins said (h/t Delaware News-Journal). “I definitely want to avoid being used as a kind of a pawn. And the way things have gone over the past few months, I don’t think the time is right for that.”
Super Bowl champions generally visit the White House in April, however, it was difficult for the Trump administration to get on the same page as the Eagles and its owner, Jeffrey Lurie. The 66-year-old has not held back in his criticisms of President Trump, calling his time as Commander-in-Chief “disastrous,” per a New York Times report.