NFL Players Association 'disappointed' by Trump's decision to cancel Eagles celebration

Credit: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Credit: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Officials with the NFL Players Association said in a statement Tuesday that it was “disappointed” by President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel a planned celebration of the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles.

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“Our union is disappointed in the decision by the White House to disinvite players from the Philadelphia Eagles from being recognized and celebrated by all Americans for their accomplishment,” the statement said. “NFL players love their country, support our troops, give back to their communities and strive to make America a better place.”

Officials with the players’ association said the president’s decision to cancel the celebration “has led to the cancellation of several player-led community service events for young people in the Washington, DC area.”

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The Eagles were expected to visit the White House on Tuesday, but Trump canceled the event Monday.

“The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow,” White House officials said in a statement announcing the cancellation. “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 people of our country. The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better.”

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Trump said he instead plans to “loudly and proudly play the National Anthem” at a 3 p.m. event to “celebrate America,” White House officials said.

The president has consistently slammed players who have chosen to kneel during the anthem, framing the protest as un-American. Then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to kneel during the anthem in a silent protest against police violence in 2016. The protest got mixed reactions, but other NFL players later followed Kaepernick’s lead to protest inequality.

Cox Media Group Washington Insider Jamie Dupree noted that no Eagles knelt last year during the national anthem. However, he reported, "A number had made it clear they were not going to show up at the White House, to show their displeasure with the President's very public stance on the national anthem."

Trump suggested last year that NFL team owners should fire players who refuse to stand during the anthem, telling a crowd in Alabama that “that’s a total disrespect for our heritage.” He told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” last month that players who decide not to stand for the anthem “maybe ... shouldn’t be in the country.”

Explore>> NFL owners approve new national anthem policy, will fine teams that allow players to kneel

Officials with the NFL said last month that team owners approved of a policy that requires players to stand during the anthem or stay in the locker room or off-field as it’s being played.

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