Eagles’ visit to White House nixed, Trump says

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The Philadelphia Eagles will not be attending a ceremony at the White House, according to a statement by President Donald Trump.

The decision comes a day before the event was to occur.

The statement says that the defending Super Bowl champions 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.”

A large group of Eagles players had decided not to attend, including most — if not all — of the black players, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Mr. Trump says that he will instead have 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.”

The team did not learn of the cancellation until the White House put out its statement, a source close to the Eagles told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio.

The source said that team owner Jeffrey Lurie was planning on attending the White House ceremony, despite some of the negative comments Lurie reportedly made about Trump in a private NFL meeting last fall. Head coach Doug Pederson and his wife Jeannie were also planning on making the trip, the source said.

“A lot of people in the Eagles organization are very disappointed,” one league source said.

A smaller delegation of players were set to go but “the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better,” according to the White House.

There had been ongoing conversations within the Eagles organization in the weeks leading up to the scheduled visit in an attempt to map out an itinerary that the team felt comfortable with.

Former Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith — now with the Carolina Panthers — tweeted his reaction to the decision.

In a subsequent tweet, Smith added: “Here are a lot of people on the team that have plenty of different views. The men and women that wanted to go should’ve been able to go. It’s a cowardly act to cancel the celebration because the majority of the people don’t want to see you.”

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Chris Long had earlier said they would not have attended the White House ceremony.

“I don’t want to take away from anybody’s experience or make it a big distraction. It’s a celebratory event, and I want the guys who choose to go or whatever to enjoy that,” Jenkins said in February. “Me personally, because it’s not a meeting or a sit-down or anything like that, I’m just not interested in the photo op.

“Over the last two years, I’ve been meeting with legislators, both Republican and Democrat, it don’t matter. If you want to meet to talk about events in my community, changing the country, I’m all for that. But this isn’t one of those meetings, so I’ll opt out of the photo opportunity.”

ESPN’s Tim McManus contributed to this report.

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