The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles were scheduled to be honored at the White House on Tuesday. But on Monday night, President Donald J. Trump canceled the appearance since the Eagles were sending such a small group of players.
“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. 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 3:00 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America.”
Some Eagles players, including defensive end Chris Long and safety Malcolm Jenkins, made it clear months ago that they wouldn’t go to the White House due to differences with the President, including over the national anthem protests.
So what went into the Eagles’ decision to send such a small group to the White House?
NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo, who has great sources in the organization, explains.
“The Eagles did make that decision that Trump mentioned to send a smaller delegation,” Garafolo said on NFL Network Monday night. “They had conversation amongst their players and staff the last couple of weeks. There were a lot ideas kicked around.”
One idea, according to Garafolo, was the whole team traveling to Washington, but some players wanted to do other things than go to the White House.
“Some players said we can all go down as a team, certain guys can go to the White House, other guys can do some things, maybe in the community or meet with lawmakers, other guys can go sightsee, but still make it a team trip,” Garafolo said. “That was one idea being kicked around. In the end, (owner) Jeff Lurie decided he didn’t want to make it a sideshow. He wanted to keep this contingent really small.”
How small was the contingent going to be?
“I didn’t get an exact number, but I was told it wasn’t 20. It wasn’t 10. It was going to less than that,” Garafolo explained. “Obviously that decision by the team didn’t please Donald Trump and the White House.”
NFL rosters consist of 53 players.
Garafolo said one of the people who would’ve attended was the star of the Super Bowl.
“It was going to be a small contingent. Nick Foles, the Super Bowl MVP were going to among them,” Garafolo said. “It was going to be a very small group, from what I was told. And again, that decision didn’t sit well with Donald Trump. They wanted to have a small contingent, just so they could send the right message – ‘OK, let’s go with the guys that we handpicked to go down there and no make it about where’s this guy and what is everyone else doing ?around Washington D.C?'”
That won’t be a problem, because it turns out none of the Eagles are going to Washington, at least not to the White House.