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Trump, NFL players, Eagles escalate war of words over national anthem protests

President Donald Trump, NFL players, the Philadelphia Eagles — and even the city's left-wing mayor — are escalating the war of words over the national anthem protests. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

Amid the bitter war of words between President Donald Trump and the NFL, its players, the Philadelphia Eagles — and even the city's left-wing mayor — over kneeling protests during the national anthem, one of the more astonishing tidbits surrounding Trump taking back his invitation to the Eagles to visit White House came from Politico's Annie Karni.

Karni, the outlet's White House reporter, tweeted that a White House official told her the Eagles "submitted 70+ names" on Thursday to attend the White House ceremony; then on Friday the Eagles tried to reschedule the event for days when Trump would be in Singapore; and by Monday the Eagles said "TWO or THREE players + owner + MASCOT" were going to Tuesday's ceremony.

The Eagles on Tuesday didn't immediately respond to TheBlaze's request for comment on the reported White House claims.

Trump's announced Monday that the Eagles' congratulatory gig at the White House — traditionally enjoyed over the years by major championship-winning franchises — was off.

But the war of words was most definitely on.

What did Trump say?

“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 noted about the reigning Super Bowl champions.

“The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better,” he added. “These fans are still invited to the White House to be a 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 statement concluded.

Trump also jabbed at the NFL in relation to the league's new policy requiring players to stand during the anthem but that also lets them remain inside locker rooms during "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"NFL, no escaping to Locker Rooms!" Trump wrote. On Monday night, Trump tweeted that staying in locker rooms for the anthem "is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling."

How are players reacting?

A large number of Eagles players had decided to skip the White House ceremony, including most — perhaps all — of the black players, ESPN reported, citing a source for the network's Adam Schefter.

But those who were planning to attend Tuesday's ceremony also intended to take part in community events while in Washington, D.C., the source told the network, including visits to a school and community center. As a result of Trump canceling the ceremony, those additional activities also were canceled, the NFL Players Association said in a statement Tuesday:

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie was planning on attending the White House ceremony despite negative comments Lurie reportedly made about Trump in a private NFL meeting last fall, ESPN said, citing a source close to the network's Sal Paolantonio. Head coach Doug Pederson and his wife, Jeannie, also were planning on attending, the source added to the network.

"A lot of people in the Eagles organization are very disappointed," one league source said, according to ESPN.

Former Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith — who's now with the Carolina Panthers — said Trump is lying about the ceremony cancellation:

"There are a lot of people on the team that have plenty of different views. The men and women that wanted to go should've been able to go," Smith added in a follow-up tweet. "It's a cowardly act to cancel the celebration because the majority of the people don't want to see you. To make it about the anthem is foolish."

More from ESPN:

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Chris Long had said earlier 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."

What did Philadelphia's mayor have to say?

Philadelphia's far-left mayor, Democrat Jim Kenney, blasted Trump over rescinding the Eagles' invitation to the White House, calling the president a "fragile egomaniac."

"These are players who stand up for the causes they believe in and who contribute in meaningful ways to their community,” Kenney stated. “They represent the diversity of our nation — a nation in which we are free to express our opinions."

He added, "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 to which no one wants to attend.”

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