A ceremony at the White House to honor the Philadelphia Eagles for their Super Bowl victory has been abruptly canceled. The president waited until the day before the event to cancel. Instead, the White House will be holding an event dubbed the “Celebration of America.” The president’s statement said the ceremony will be “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 White House reportedly canceled the visit by the Eagles after only a small handful of the players planned to attend. According to some White House officials, as few as four players had agreed to appear with the president. The players who did intend to travel to Washington were planning to also do community events, including visits to a school and community center. Those visits were canceled after the White House invitation was revoked.
Through his statement and his tweets, President Trump has painted the event’s cancellation as a noble defense of the military and the flag. A Twitter statement from the president read: “The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!”
The NFL recently instituted a policy barring players from kneeling in protest during the national anthem. If players don’t want to stand on the field, the league will allow them to remain in the locker room while the anthem is played. Several people have pointed out that not a single Eagles player knelt during the anthem last year. There are not any photos or video of the team’s players kneeling during the anthem.