McMullen: Feckless Turns to Foresight for Eagles
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles spent about fours hours crafting a rather feckless statement in the wake of Donald Trump's last-minute cancellation of the team's planned visit of the White House, ostensibly because of differences over protests Philadelphia players never made during the national anthem but really about the lack of attendance on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Less than 10 Eagles players were planning to make the trip down I-95 to visit with Trump and the optics of that were not what the administration was looking for so the rug was pulled out from under what is supposed to be an apolitical event: the honoring of a championship sports team.
"The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow," Trump said in a statement. "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 organization's response was not enough for those who stand on the opposite side of the fence from Trump and his fervent base, who support the POTUS' hard-line attempts at using his bully pulpit to steer NFL policy.
“It has been incredibly thrilling to celebrate our first Super Bowl Championship," the organization said. "Watching the entire Eagles community come together has been an inspiration. We are truly grateful for all of the support we have received and we are looking forward to continuing our preparations for the 2018 season.”
The attempt there is an effort to stop being used as a pawn for those inside the beltway and their acolytes all across the country who haven't taken the time to research what the handful of NFL players who did kneel were attempting to protest.
The Eagles, however, are likely quickly finding out that you can't win in such circumstances. Unless they firebomb the administration with multiple Bryan Colangelo-inspired burner accounts, they were going to be weak to those with 'Trump Derangement Syndrome' and unless they stand behind the Prez 53 strong for a 'MAGA' photo op, they aren't going to patriotic to some.
Staying above the fray was the only realistic path forward for a business that has to serve both parts of a broken constituency.
The most disappointing part of all of this for me was going on social media and finding amateur sleuth's speculating on who was going before listing all the Caucasian players on the Eagles. That's probably not all that surprising until you consider many taking that path were from the 'tolerant left' not the 'bigoted right.'
The irony there is deep on both a micro and macro level. Chris Long might be the most vocal Trump critic on the Eagles' roster while Mike Wallace told 973espn.com last week that he hoped he was going to the White House this time next year, not as a political statement on Trump but as a celebration for winning a Super Bowl he's spent the last decade of his life trying to capture.
Take the Eagles out of this equation and the real danger here is conformity of thought and racing to the same destination from different starting points. Consider the farthest left you can go is essentially communism and the polar opposite of that is fascism. Now examine history and marvel at the similarities between communist and fascist regimes.
Despite the narrative, this country remains the most inclusive in the world and your ideology -- no matter what it is -- didn't make it that way. The willingness to listen to others with opposing viewpoints did.
So put down the phone and stop assuming everyone different from you is the devil. Make your own world better with the only real rule that counts -- the golden one.
Heck, if we can all agree to that maybe we can even find something that could bring us all together, you know like a championship football team.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Want more NFL? Check out John's piece on why 'The Cleanse' in Cleveland was about more than losing at GetMoreSports.com