Less than 24 hours before President Donald Trump was to welcome the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to the White House, he rescinded the invitation Monday evening.
Several members of the Eagles, including safety Malcolm Jenkins — one of the leaders of the Players Coalition — and defensive end Chris Long, said before Trump extended the invitation that they would not attend if invited.
"The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow," Trump wrote 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 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America."
Jenkins and Long are among several players who voiced support for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who in 2016 began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
The NFL owners last week adopted a new anthem policy that will allow for players who do not wish to stand for the anthem to remain in the tunnel. Teams can be fined if players do not stand and "show respect" during the anthem.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith, who played for the Eagles but was traded in the offseason to the Carolina Panthers, admonished Trump for the decision.
"There are a lot of people on the team that have plenty of different views," Smith wrote in a tweet. "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. To make it about the anthem is foolish"
The team has not released a statement in response.
Last September, the possibility of a White House visit for the NBA champion Golden State Warriors broke down after Trump took issue with star guard Stephen Curry saying he would not attend a celebration. Instead, the Warriors focused on education and community service during their February visit to the nation's capital.