June 4 (UPI) — President Donald Trump announced Monday that the Philadelphia Eagles are not coming to the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl win.
“The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow,” Trump said. “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 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America.”
The event was set to occur Tuesday in celebration of the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory Feb. 4 against the New England Patriots.
Sources told NFL Network that the team held meetings with players in recent weeks, with owner Jeffrey Lurie saying he “didn’t want to put the players in a tough spot.” He decided to send a small group of players with others having an optional day.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson said in May that the team would visit the White House. Eagles stars Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long and Torrey Smith previously said they would not attend the ceremony.
A source close to the Eagles told ESPN that a large group of players had decided not to attend, including most, if not all of the black players.
Lurie and Pederson were planning to attend the ceremony.
Eagles President Don Smolenski brought the Lombardi Trophy to the Pennsylvania Capitol on Monday. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., invited the team to tour the U.S. Capitol after he learned of Trump’s decision.