Following the Philadelphia Eagles’ Superbowl victory in February, several Eagles players announced they would not visit the White House although it is customary for the winning team to meet with the president. Some players planned to sit out in protest of Mr. Trump’s policies and hard-line stance against NFL players kneeling, but the team was still in talks with the White House.
Last April, after the New England Patriots won the Superbowl, Tom Brady and numerous teammates skipped the White House visit with Mr. Trump. Since Trump was elected, players are increasingly rejecting the invitation in protest of Trump and his administration’s policies.
Back in April, the Eagles released a statement, saying:
‘We have been in contact with White House representatives and are currently discussing the logistics of an upcoming visit to Washington. We are honored to receive this invitation and view this not only as an opportunity to be recognized for our on-field accomplishments, but also as an opportunity to engage in productive dialogue with the leaders of our country.’
On Monday, Mr. Trump announced that the Eagles would not be visiting the White House on Tuesday. Trump made a statement about the players’ national anthem protests, saying:
‘The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow. 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 president went on to say:
‘The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better.’
Trump said that Eagles fan are 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.”
Comments from Twitter:
‘I will be there at 3:00 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America.’
Back in September, Mr. Trump brazenly said that the NFL should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. He said:
‘They’re ruining the game.’
Then, he went on to say:
‘That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for.
‘Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired.’
Since then, he has continued to take a hard and uncultivated stance against NFL players who use kneeling as a form of protesting police brutality against people of color – so much that it has polarized the nation even further on the issue.
The very climate though that players are protesting has largely been brought on by Trump’s rhetoric during his campaign and throughout his presidency. He has made it okay for hate, violence, and racism to be regarded almost as a normalcy these days.
Trump also tried to claim that the anthem protest was the reason NFL viewership had waned. He said:
‘You know what’s hurting the game? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem.’
The president told people to stand up and leave the game the next time they saw players kneeling on the field. He said:
‘I guarantee things will stop.’
About a week ago, the NFL announced that their new policy would be to fine players for kneeling during the national anthem.
Featured image by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images