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White House cancels Philadelphia Eagles' visit

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  • By Around The NFL staff NFL.com
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The Philadelphia Eagles' visit to the White House has been canceled.

The White House announced Monday evening that the team will not be attending a scheduled celebration of its Super Bowl victory, which was planned for June 5.

"The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow. 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," a statement from President Donald Trump read. "The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better. These fans are still invited to the White House to be part of a different type of ceremony -- one that will honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem. I will be there at 3:00 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America."

The Eagles released this statement after the announcement:

"It has been incredibly thrilling to celebrate our first Super Bowl Championship. 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."

Eagles coach Doug Pederson told reporters on May 22 that the team would visit the White House on June 5.

In the weeks leading up to this scheduled ceremony, Eagles players and staff members had conversations among themselves regarding how to handle the visit, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported.

Owner Jeffrey Lurie did not want to put his players in a tough spot and eventually decided to send a smaller contingent of fewer than 10 players, one that included Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, Garafolo added. Other players were going to have an optional day at the team facility.

It was also suggested that the entire Eagles organization travel to Washington, D.C, as a "team trip," during which some team members visit the White House while others work in the community, meet with lawmakers or go sightseeing.

The Eagles are currently in the midst of four days of organized team activities. With the trip canceled, the team will take part in an OTA session Tuesday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

Eagles teammates Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long had previously said they will not attend the celebration. Former Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith also said he did not plan to attend.

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz said when the visit was announced that he planned to attend, adding he didn't see the event as a "political thing" even if some of his teammates don't feel the same way.

At the Spring League Meeting two weeks ago, the NFL enacted a national anthem policy for 2018 that requires players and league personnel on the sideline to stand but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they don't want to stand.

Under the change approved by team owners, individual clubs have the power to set their own policies to ensure the anthem is being respected during any on-field action. If a player chooses to protest on the sideline, the NFL will fine the team. The player also could be fined by his team.

Jenkins and Long were among the players who expressed displeasure with the policy.

"What NFL owners did today was thwart the players' constitutional rights to express themselves and use our platform to draw attention to social injustices like racial inequality in our country. Everyone loses when voices get stifled," said Jenkins, who was initially planning to visit a D.C.-area school Tuesday, Garafolo reported.

"While I disagree with this decision, I will not let it silence me or stop me from fighting. The national conversation around race in America that NFL players forced over the past two years will persist as we continue to use our voices, our time and our money to create a more fair and just criminal justice system, end police brutality and foster better educational and economic opportunities for communities of color and those struggling in this country."

The NFL Players Association released a statement Tuesday regarding the White House's decision:

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