Eagles Get White House Invite
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles have gotten their White House invitation.
The tradition, typically a nonpartisan affair, designed to celebrate major sports champions in an apolitical fashion has taken on a new twist in the modern polarized political environment.
Already, social activists like Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long and Torrey Smith, who is now with the Carolina Panthers, have said they would turn down the invitation to be honored by controversial President Donald Trump, although Jenkins left open the door if a more meaningful meeting could be arranged.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the The New York Times that the invitation to the Super Bowl LII champions had been extended, the first since Trump publicly criticized players deciding to kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest.
“We have been in conversations with the Eagles about timing and are working with them to make it happen," she told the newspaper. "We hope to have something finalized in the next couple of weeks.”
The Eagles then confirmed the invite in a statement released to 973espn.com and other media outlets.
“We have been in contact with White House representatives and are currently discussing the logistics of an upcoming visit to Washington," a team spokesman said. "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.”
Complicating matters even further could be the politics of Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, a longtime "liberal or progressive."
Lurie was very frustrated that all NFL owners were considered a monolith when it came to accusations of blackballing Colin Kaepernick and according to the NYT he was very vocal about his disdain for Trump at a meeting between some owners and the so-called Players coalition in October of last year.
The Times claimed a player said that it was difficult to trust the owners because they supported Trump.
“Another fact I want to throw out there: Many of us have no interest in supporting President Trump,” Lurie responded according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The NYT. “Yes, there are some. There are some players who do, too."
“But this is not where you brandish a group of people because they own assets in a sport we love, supporting what many of us perceive as, you know, one [expletive] disastrous presidency,” Lurie continues before adding, “Don’t quote me.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen