It’s unknown what Joe Lockhart would have said about the President’s cancellation of the White House visit by the Super Bowl champion Eagles if Lockhart were still the NFL’s top in-house P.R. executive. It is known what Lockhart did say in his capacity as a former NFL employee.
“Official statements from the President used to be serious thoughtful expressions of national interest,” said Lockhart, who served as the White House press secretary under President Clinton, on Twitter. “Now they are childish rants. The latest — if some of the [Super Bowl] champs don’t want to come to the [White House], then none of them are invited. POTUS will play with his toys alone tomorrow.”
The President uninvited the Eagles on the eve of the visit, claiming that “[t]hey 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 country.”
“It’s the people’s house,” Lockhart added. “All Americans should be welcome. We’re not a monarchy where only those who swear loyalty are allowed into the palace. Players wanted to go and are being denied access because some teammates disagree and won’t bow, or kneel, before the President.”
Regardless of whether that’s an accurate description of the reasons for some Eagles to choose not to attend, the move reconfirms that the NFL cannot and will not win when it comes to the anthem issue, no matter how completely and repeatedly the owners try to capitulate to the President’s wishes. Anything done by the owners won’t be good enough or genuine enough or zealous enough.
Some would say they shouldn’t have done anything, accepting the fact that the President and his base will continue to twist the tiger’s tail no matter what the tiger does.