That’ll learn them! After hearing that the president had withdrawn his invitation to the Super Bowl-wining Philadelphia Eagles to visit the White House after all but a handful of team members refused to show up, the team made an announcement of its own. Its plan to conduct “several player-led community service events for young people in the Washington, DC area” was off.
The NFL Players Association shared the news on the players’ behalf on Tuesday in a tweet that had the effect of a middle finger to kids in the area. The tweet closes with a P.S. noting that the players “give back to their communities,” which shows that if nothing else the union has a wry sense of humor.
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) June 5, 2018
Many in the media have criticized the president — rightly — for falsely claiming that the players’ decision not to attend the White House meet-and-greet had something to do with their disrespect for the national anthem. It did not. As a number of news outlets have pointed out, none of the Eagles players took a knee in protest of the anthem during the 2017-2018 football season.*
On the other hand, the decision by most of the team members to decline the invitation to the White House because of their antipathy toward this president is petty and foolish. The practice of inviting a winning team to the nation’s capital is a tradition that predates the current occupant of the White House. The behavior of the Eagles players may set an ugly precedent that could in time lead to an end to the practice.
As for their snubbing the children of Washington, D.C., that is a bit of bad PR for the league at a time when viewership and game attendance are already down. The players association may live to regret this decision.
* Multiple Eagles players took part in a protest of the anthem at the beginning of a nationally televised Monday night game in 2016.