President Donald Trump abruptly disinvited Super Bowl-champion Philadelphia Eagles less than 24 hours before the Rose Garden event meaning to celebrate them. But the show went on, even without the guests of honor.

This last-minute change was reportedly in response to fewer than 10 team members intending to show up to the celebration that had been in the works since February, which is usually a non-political event. According to Politico, the initial 81-person guest list was reduced to just two or three players, the owner and the team’s mascot, Swoop. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement addressing the change of plans.

“In other words, vast majority of the Eagles team decided to abandon their fans,” Sanders wrote. “Upon learning these facts, the president decided to change the events so that it would be a celebration of the American flag with Eagles fans and performances by United States Marine Band and the Army State Chorus.”


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The event was described as “very dull” by attendees to Washington Post reporters. When the Army Chorus sang “God Bless America,” Trump reportedly warbled along and, at times, appeared to forget the words and would instead silently bop along. The Post reported that a lone heckler in the crowd took a knee, but was booed and insulted by being called a Cowboys fan.

“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,” Trump said in a statement. He tweeted on Tuesday before the event about the impending celebration of America and added a victorious “NFL, no escaping to Locker Rooms!” in reference to the NFL’s announcement that players must stand during the anthem or stay in the locker room. However, Eagles players did not kneel in protest in last season’s games.



Eagles’ players took to Twitter as well to respond to the president’s decision. Carolina Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith commented that, “To make it about the anthem is foolish.”



Disinviting resistant sports teams and players is not unusual for Trump. Last September, he disinvited Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry from coming to the White House after Curry expressed that he did not want to go. The NFL Player’s Association responded to the president’s decision to disinvite the Eagles with a statement posted to Twitter.


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