Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith is disputing claims by President Donald Trump about why players weren’t going to go to the White House for the now-scuttled celebration of the team’s Super Bowl win. Smith took to Twitter last night saying Trump’s claims it had to do with the National Anthem are just wrong.
It should be pointed out an analysis by Sports Pundit found the Eagles were one of eight teams to not have any players kneel during the Star Spangled Banner last season. Cornerback Ron Brooks did take a knee during the preseason but he was released before the season started. There was a team protest last September, but it was over Trump’s “get that son of a b[rachiosaurus] off the field right now,” declaration in Alabama.
Yet, Eagles players were also hesitant to commit to a White House visit after they won the Super Bowl earlier the year. It appears the indecisiveness is why Trump decided to call the visit off. Via Philly.com:
The Eagles were scheduled to be honored by Trump at 3 p.m. on the South Lawn. Fewer than 10 players planned to attend, a team source told the Inquirer and Daily News. Eagles representatives were in Washington on Monday preparing logistics. Owner Jeffrey Lurie planned to make the visit, the source said.
“It has been incredibly thrilling to celebrate our first Super Bowl championship,” the Eagles said in a statement. “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.”
I’m actually sympathetic towards Trump if it’s true only ten players were going to attend (note: players don’t equal executives, staff, and coaches). I certainly would have attended the White House celebration regardless of my opinion on some of the President’s policies (I felt the same way when Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas refused to meet Obama, even though I agree a lot more with Thomas’ politics than Obama’s). It’s a unique opportunity to spend time in Washington, DC and possibly get to speak with Trump on a few things. I understand Smith’s reasons for not wanting to go and, so be it, if his now former teammates felt the same way.
The problem is Trump comes off like a rather belligerent child going, “Oh yeah…well…well screw you!” in his statement disinviting the team. Frankly, I would have accepted the smaller delegation and worked with the team on a hybrid ceremony honoring the Eagles and law enforcement/military. It would be making the best out of a bad situation, instead of being so petulant over players saying they don’t want to show up. Trump’s statement is only going to get his supporters riled up and angry at the NFL, while his opponents will just get angry. Both will take to social media to spew their opinion, regardless of whether it’s thoughtful or not.
It’s just an unfortunate situation, but players are allowed to skip White House visits if it’s their wont – just like other Americans can skip out on visits to their own visits whilst in DC. It is the First Amendment after all. There’s going to be fallout for this, but the NFL should be hesitant in making any other rule changes or mandating teams visit the White House after winning a Super Bowl. The league would be in its right because it’s a private organization but it would simply be a sense of “false patriotism.” There still could have been a better outcome than around ten players deciding to visit and Trump deciding to cancel the entire celebration in a petty statement. The current ‘solution’ really isn’t one at all.