Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Blaming Trump too easy

Posted by Eric Fisher On June 5

If we choose to cast stones in response to the Eagles’ White House Super Bowl celebration fiasco, President Trump shouldn’t be the only one ducking for cover.

Trump deserves criticism for the typically bombastic way in which he “disinvited” the Eagles from the celebration. He cited a disagreement over standing for the national anthem as the reason that many Eagles weren’t going to show up, which is why he rescinded their invitation. The truth is that several outspoken Eagles had said they wouldn’t attend the ceremony before the NFL’s new national anthem policy was announced.

The White House doubled down Tuesday by saying that the Eagles had abandoned their fans. This is ridiculous. The Eagles certainly did not abandon their passionate fans by choosing not to go to the White House. President Trump also took a shot at NFL players during Tuesday’s “Celebration of America” event, which replaced the Eagles celebration, by saying nobody could escape to the locker room while the national anthem played.

The Eagles, however, aren’t blameless. I’m jaded enough to be skeptical about anything that comes out of the mouth of a presidential spokesperson – and not just under the current president – so I don’t necessarily believe White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders when she said that the Eagles notified the White House last Thursday that 81 people, including players, coaches and managers, would be attending. But I do believe that if the Eagles had told the White House last Thursday that five or fewer players would attend, as ESPN’s Dan Van Natta Jr. reported would have been the case if the ceremony had taken place as planned, the White House would have canceled the ceremony prior to Monday.

Actually, if the Eagles knew so few players would attend the ceremony, they should have withdrawn their commitment to attend. According to Huckabee Sanders, the Eagles called on Friday to reschedule the ceremony, but the date they requested was a time when President Trump would be out of town. As soon as the Eagles knew they were going to have miniscule attendance – and it’s difficult to believe they didn’t know that before last Friday – they had a responsibility to notify the White House.

A ceremony with less than 10 of the players in attendance would obviously be embarrassing to Trump. It also left him with almost no choice.

If you were hosting a party and your honorees told you they weren’t coming – and they weren’t coming because of you – how many of you would still hold the party?

Trumps’ problem is he doesn’t do anything gracefully. He should have canceled the event by saying that he’s disappointed so few Eagles decided to show up, so he regrets to inform that public that the ceremony is canceled. No mention of the national anthem protest was necessary. That’s called taking the high road. It’s a road with which the president has little familiarity.

But let’s not, as many have done, portray the Eagles as heroes. The players have every right to express their opinion. Not showing up at an event held in their honor at the White House, though, does not make them heroes.

For those praising the Eagles, did you feel the same way when an athlete refused to attend a championship celebration at the White House when President Obama was in office? If not, then you’re a hypocrite.

I wish the players would have attended. You should be able to respect the office of the president even if you don’t like the policies of the person in the office. And, yes, I felt the same way when Barack Obama was president.

Of course, the carcass of this canceled ceremony attracted the vultures. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has made sure he is front and center in criticizing Trump. He called Trump a tyrant and made reference to a bunch of stuff that doesn’t seem to have any relation to the Eagles’ canceled White House visit. But Kenney is simply playing to his base, as Trump was doing when he brought up the national anthem.

The vultures also include FOX News, which showed pictures of Eagles players kneeling, but those pictures were from pre-game prayers rather than from during the national anthem. FOX News has since apologized for the photos, but the damage has been done. The truth is that no Eagles player kneeled during the national anthem last season.

The truth also is that the Eagles aren’t standing up for freedom of speech. Their stance has little to do with the NFL’s new national anthem policy, which requires players to stand during the national anthem if they’re on the field. Many players had said they wouldn’t attend the White House ceremony even before the NFL drafted a new anthem policy.

If enough Eagles didn’t want to go, the team should have declined the invitation. That would have prevented the current fiasco.

There aren’t any heroes in this situation. The last-minute cancellation of the White House ceremony to honor the Eagles for winning the Super Bowl has tarnished the reputation of everyone involved – not just President Trump.

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