President Donald Trump has told the Philadelphia Eagles that they aren’t invited to his birthday party.
In an off-season blustered by the NFL’s controversial decision to make standing for the anthem mandatory, and the backlash from players that followed, President Trump has upped the ante again by rescinding his invitation for the Super Bowl Champion Eagles to make the traditional congratulatory visit to the White House.
Trump cited the reason as being because “They disagree with their President.”
Trump’s statement went on to say that the Eagles refuse to fully comply with his wishes that everyone stand for the anthem, so they will no longer be welcome at the White House.
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Make no mistake, this is an unprecedented move by a sitting president. The honoring of champion sports teams at the White House has become an expected tradition. While there have been instances of players rejecting the Presidents’ offer (Tim Thomas 2012, James Harrison 2009), the President of the country has never taken away the offer entirely, especially not due to political differences.
Needless to say, this has not sat well with residents of the Eastern PA region. Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney had some strong words for the Republican President. “Cities need to stand up in this country, and many mayors have stood up in this country against this tyrant,” Kenney said. “He is trying to turn this country into a dictatorship by ignoring the courts and by saying and doing what he wants, by ignoring the Department of Justice … and in the end this will all come to a conclusion, and it won’t be a good ending for him.”
Former PA governor and Philly lifer Ed Rendell also clapped back at Trumps dictatorial move.
“The president should have expected this when he called some of the players ‘sons of bitches’ and saying they were dishonoring the military,” Rendell said in a telephone interview. “This has nothing to do with the military.”
Rendell is referencing a comment that Trump made in prior months about players kneeling for the anthem in protest being “sons of bitches.”
The backlash from the country has largely been cries of dictatorship. President Trump has made several statements recently about absolute power, the most recent of which being that he “absolutely believes” he has the power to pardon himself should he be indicted on criminal charges.
Although clearly a primarily political move by the president, it couldn’t have hurt that the Eagles beat Trump’s favorite team, The New England Patriots, in a Cinderella story Super Bowl. Trump and the Patriot’s owner, Robert Kraft, have been bed fellows for decades, and Trump probably was not a fan of watching his buddy’s team get upset in such an embarrassing fashion. For a man who’s life is centered around hating to lose, the Super Bowl loss probably was not enjoyable. Maybe taking his ball and going home has helped ease the pain a little.
It is also partially a move to avoid the embarrassment of only 10 members of the Eagles showing up for his graces, something that looked fairly imminent.
Now that Trump has offered the newest salvo, it remains to be seen what the NFL’s next move is. They have tried to walk the grey area between their players’ rights to free speech, and their presidents demand for obedience, but Trump is not one to compromise (See, “The Art of the Deal). With the league now facing a full frontal insult from the president they worked so hard to please, what will they do next.
Whatever the outcome, the fans of the Eagles may have the last laugh. Mayor Kenney stated Monday that this will do nothing to hinder the cities plans to celebrate their first Super Bowl win, and that Philadelphians will party harder than ever. In a shot directed at the president’s fragile ego, one of Kenney’s aides posted a picture of twitter comparing the paltry numbers at the presidential inauguration verses the huge crowd at the Philadelphia Super Bowl celebration. The caption read “Our party was bigger than yours”
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