WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Monday continued his spat with National Football League players who have protested during the National Anthem by withdrawing his White House invitation to the Super Bowl winning Philadelphia Eagles football team.
Several members of the team — including safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Chris Long — said they wouldn't attend the event with Trump to honor their team because they viewed it as a photo opportunity, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Jenkins raised his fist in protest during the national anthem during the team's last season as a way to spark conversation about injustice.
In a statement released to reporters, Trump responded to the snub by disinviting the team.
Trump's statement said the entire team would not come to the White House because they disagree with his insistence 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," his statement continued. "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 3:00 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America."
Former Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith took to Trump's favorite social media outlet — Twitter — to condemn the cancellation as "cowardly," and accused Trump of spreading a "false narrative" that players are anti-military. He said not many players were planning to go, and none of them were refusing to attend "simply because Trump 'insists' folks stand for the anthem.
"There are a lot of people on the team that have plenty of different views," Smith tweeted. "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."