On Monday, President Trump announced that he’d officially disinvited the Philadelphia Eagles from their planned visit to the White House on Tuesday, citing their decision to send “a smaller delegation” in protest of his criticism of players who won’t stand to honor the country and those who defend her during the performance of the National Anthem. In response, the Democratic mayor of Philadelphia issued a blistering condemnation of the president.
“The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow,” the White House announced in a statement Monday. “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 Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better. 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.”
Trump issued a follow-up statement on Twitter: “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!”
In response, Democratic Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney issued a statement declaring that the president is “not a true patriot,” but that he is instead “a fragile egomaniac” who’s obsession with “crowd size” and fear of embarrassment inspired his decision.
“The Eagles call the birthplace of our democracy home, so it’s no surprise that this team embodies everything that makes our country and our city great,” said Kenney in a statement reported by CBS Philadelphia. “Their athletic accomplishments on the field led to an historic victory this year. Fans all across the country rallied behind them because we like to root for the underdog and we feel joy when we see the underdogs finally win. I’m equally proud of the Eagles’ activism off the field. These are players who stand up for the causes they believe in and who contribute in meaningful ways to their community. They represent the diversity of our nation—a nation in which we are free to express our opinions.”
He continued: “Disinviting them from the White House only proves that our President is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend. City Hall is always open for a celebration.”
Trump’s war with anthem kneelers has been raging for over a year. His condemnation during a rally last season of the “son of a b***” players who continue to kneel prompted a massive demonstration of “solidarity” from over two hundred players the next Sunday. The divisive protest movement has cost the NFL dearly and in response the league recently decided to impose a fine on players who kneel, but compromised with protesters by allowing players to stay in the locker room if they do not want to honor the flag.