Fewer than 10 Philadelphia Eagles players were expected to be in attendance at the White House before President Donald Trump elected to cancel the ceremony, according to a published report Tuesday.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that team owner Jeffrey Lurie was expected to join a small contingent on the South Lawn at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. before the White House rescinded the invitation, less than 24 hours before the scheduled ceremony.
"The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated (Tuesday). 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.
No Philadelphia Eagles players knelt during the anthem during their Super Bowl-winning season. Some did participate in non-violent protests like raising their fists during the national anthem in protests motivated by the treatment of black males by police departments and within the criminal justice system.
Fox News, for its part, apologized for showing a picture of Philadelphia Eagles players kneeling in prayer and suggesting it was part of protests during the national anthem--a statement from Fox corrected and acknowledged no members of the Eagles knelt in protest during the national anthem before games last year.
"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 appeared to take the high road in their statement released Monday night, as they elected to go without mentioning the Commander-in-Chief or the White House.
"It has been incredibly thrilling to celebrate our first Super Bowl Championship," the team 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."
The NFL Players' Association released a statement on Tuesday morning regarding the White House's decision against hosting the Super Bowl champions:
"Our Union is disappointed in the decision by the White House to disinvite players from the Philadelphia Eagles from being
recognized and celebrated by all Americans for their accomplishment. This decision by the White House has led to the cancellation of several player-led community service events for young people in the Washington, D.C. area.
"NFL players love their country, support our troops, give back to their communities and strive to make America a better place."
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Chris Long previously had said that they would not have attended the White House ceremony.
"I don't want to take away from anybody's experience or make it a big distraction. It's a celebratory event, and I want the guys who choose to go or whatever to enjoy that," Jenkins said in February. "Me personally, because it's not a meeting or a sit-down or anything like that, I'm just not interested in the photo op.
"Over the last two years, I've been meeting with legislators, both Republican and Democrat, it don't matter. If you want to meet to talk about events in my community, changing the country, I'm all for that. But this isn't one of those meetings, so I'll opt out of the photo opportunity."
The Eagles join the Golden State Warriors in being "uninvited" by the President, with the NBA champions being rejected in response to critical comments made by guard Stephen Curry.
While the Eagles weren't welcome in Washington, they will be embraced at City Hall in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney called Trump "a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend." Kenney, a Democrat, said of Trump on Tuesday morning on CNN: "When he had the opportunity to serve his country for real, his father got him out of it, and I think it's really disingenuous for him to talk about patriotism in any way shape or form."
The mayor was referring to deferments Trump obtained during the Vietnam War for his college education and for bone spurs in his heels. Kenney said Eagles fans would take the president's withdrawing the invitation in stride.
"Eagles fans understand that our players are individuals who can stand up for themselves and stand up for what they believe in and that's what this country's about," Kenney said.
He added, in a statement provided to NBC Sports Philadelphia:
"The Eagles call the birthplace of our democracy home, so it's no surprise that this team embodies everything that makes our country and our city great. Their athletic accomplishments on the field led to an historic victory this year. Fans all across the country rallied behind them because we like to root for the underdog and we feel joy when we see the underdogs finally win. I'm equally proud of the Eagles' activism off the field. These are players who stand up for the causes they believe in and who contribute in meaningful ways to their community. They represent the diversity of our nation -- a nation in which we are free to express our opinions.
"Disinviting them from the White House only proves that our President is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party in which no one wants to attend.
"City Hall is always open for a celebration."