The Philadelphia Eagles had over 70 players on their roster at the end of the season when counting the 53-man active roster, injured reserve list and practice squad. Fewer than 10 of those players were expected to be in attendance for the ceremony at the White House with President Donald Trump on Tuesday, according to a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Team owner Jeffrey Lurie was among personnel expected to make the trip, but the travel party was expected to be rather small as most of the players that hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in Minneapolis in February were not planning to attend.
The White House rescinded the invitation less than 24 hours before the scheduled ceremony. A statement from the White House panned the team for not attending en masse and because “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 country.”
Trump also tweeted, “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!”
No Eagles players stayed in the locker room for the anthem nor kneeled during it last season.
The Eagles released a statement of their own Monday night seemingly attempting to take the high road without mentioning the President or the White House.
“It has been incredibly thrilling to celebrate our first Super Bowl Championship,” the team said in a statement Monday night. “Watching the entire Eagles community come together has been an inspiration. We are truly grateful for all of the support we have received and we are looking forward to continuing our preparations for the 2018 season.”
Instead of a ceremony to honor the Super Bowl Champions, the event is now being labeled as the “Celebration of America,” per Nikki Schwab of the New York Post.