White House makes US Capitol no-fly zone for Eagles

Trump calls off Eagles visit over anthem dispute

Rachel Kurland
June 04, 2018 - 7:20 pm
Super Bowl LII Champions-Philadelphia Eagles Celebration

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The White House announced Monday evening that the Philadelphia Eagles are no longer invited to Washington, D.C., Tuesday to celebrate the Super Bowl champs.

"The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow," read 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."

It's unclear why the Super Bowl winners were uninvited the day before the event.

The Eagles were the first Super Bowl champs since President Donald Trump attacked NFL players who protested during the national anthem.

Several players previously stated they will not be attending the White House event, including Brandon Graham, Chris Long, LeGarrette Blount and Malcolm Jenkins.

Quarterback Carson Wentz previously said he'd go to the June 5 event if most of his teammates decided to, but that's no longer an option.

Not all the Super Bowl champs were planning to go to the White House, but a few were, according to Eagles analyst Ray Didinger.

"I'm sure there are guys on that team that would have enjoyed this," he said. "It's part of being a world champion — you get that day in the sun where you get to tour the White House and meet the president. It's not something everybody gets an opportunity to do, and they don't have that opportunity."

The White House still invited Eagles fans who were planning to come to D.C. for a ceremony honoring the country, but Didinger doesn't expect many will accept.

"The reason for them to go down there would have been to see their team honored, and if the team's not going to be there then I don't know if there's going to be a compelling reason for all those people to show up," he said. "They're taking something that should be a joyous moment, something everyone can celebrate and turning it into another political issue."

NFL Network's Mike Garafolo said fewer than 10 players were expected to attend.

Legislators quickly took to Twitter to express their thoughts on the cancellation. 

Mayor Jim Kenney released a statement: "Disinviting them from the White House only proves that our President is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend. City Hall is always open for a celebration."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a rule change within the NFL May 23 in which all players who are on the field must now stand during the national anthem or else their team will face penalties. 

Former Eagles player Torrey Smith, who was traded to the Carolina Panthers in March, said the statement from the White House spreads a "false narrative." 

Late Monday evening, Trump responded to the news on Twitter, claiming that "staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling."

During the 2017 regular and post-season, NFL sources said not one of the players took a knee. In November, Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod were seen raising their arms during the national anthem in solidarity.

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Andrew Kramer contributed to this report.