Philadelphia Eagles receive White House invite; owner called Trump ‘disastrous’: report
Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie called Donald Trump’s presidency "disastrous" during a meeting between NFL players and owners, according to The New York Times. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
The Philadelphia Eagles have received an invitation to the White House, but they haven’t committed to visiting President Donald Trump, as is customary for Super Bowl champions, according to a report from The New York Times.
Several Eagles players, including defensive end Chris Long and safety Malcolm Jenkins, have routinely criticized Trump publicly and said in February they would not attend a White House event. Owner Jeffrey Lurie, who has a history of donating to Democratic candidates, called Trump’s presidency “disastrous” during a meeting between NFL players and owners this fall, The Times reported.
The Eagles released a statement that said they are considering whether to visit the White House.
“We have been in contact with White House representatives and are currently discussing the logistics of an upcoming visit to Washington,” the statement read. “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.”
Jenkins, who co-founded the NFL Players Coalition to promote social activism, said he would not attend a celebration at the White House but wanted other players to take advantage of the opportunity if they wished.
“I, over the last two years, have been meeting with legislators, both republican and democrat,” Jenkins said. “If you want to meet to talk about advancing our communities, changing our country, I’m all for that. But [the Eagles’ White House visit] isn’t one of those meetings, so I’ll opt out of the photo opportunities.”
Last year, the Patriots visited Trump on April 19 to celebrate their Super Bowl title. Winners of major sports championships have taken annual trips to the White House since the 1980s, when the tradition began under president Ronald Reagan, but Trump announced in September the NBA champion Warriors wouldn’t be invited after star guard Stephen Curry said the team was considering skipping the event.
Also in September, Trump criticized NFL players who made gestures or knelt during the national anthem as a way to protest social injustices in the United States. Trump said at a rally in Alabama any player who took a knee should be fired, which promoted more players across the league to participate in national anthem gestures.
Jenkins raised his fist during the anthem for the first three months of the 2017 season but chose to stop after the NFL pledged funds to help promote player activism.
The White House is working with the Eagles with the intention of planning a visit, according to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“We have been in conversations with the Eagles about timing and are working with them to make it happen,” Sanders said, according to The Times. “We hope to have something finalized in the next couple of weeks.”