After winning Super Bowl LI, the Patriots visited the White House on April 19, 2017.
You might have noticed that April 19 has come and gone this year and there hasn’t been much talk of the Super Bowl champion Eagles visiting the relatively new home of President Donald Trump.
But on Monday, the New York Times reported that discussions about a possible Eagles trip to the White House have begun.
The Eagles confirmed that report with the following in a statement: “We have been in contact with White House representatives and are currently discussing the logistics of an upcoming visit to Washington. We are honored to receive this invitation and view this not only as an opportunity to be recognized for our on-field achievements, but also as an opportunity to engage in productive dialogue with the leaders of our country."
This is the first time the Eagles have publicly spoken about a trip to the White House and the first time they’ve revealed they have been invited. When asked about the possible trip last month at the annual league meetings, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie didn’t seem very eager to speak about the topic.
“We just won the Super Bowl,” Lurie said in Orlando last month. “I haven’t had any of those discussions. I have no idea. It’s just … I haven’t had those discussions.”
The idea that the visit to the White House could be an opportunity for dialogue is an interesting one. Normally, these things are pretty much photo opportunities, but perhaps that’s part of the discussion.
As you might guess, an Eagles trip to the White House is a pretty tricky trip to figure out.
The Eagles have several players — Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, Torrey Smith — who have already said publicly that they wouldn’t attend. And last year when the Patriots won, Long and LeGarrette Blount were not among the group that went. Aside from that, Lurie, who donated money to Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign, is considered one of the more liberal owners in the league.
“We have been in conversations with the Eagles about timing and are working with them to make it happen,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, via the New York Times. “We hope to have something finalized in the next couple of weeks.”
According to the New York Times story, Lurie had strong criticism for Trump at a private league meeting last October as owners, players and executives met weeks after Trump scolded the NFL and players, which brought more league-wide protesting during the national anthem. During those meetings, Lurie described Trump’s presidency as “disastrous” and reportedly used a vulgarity to emphasize that opinion.
This is not the first time an Eagle has had harsh words for Trump. Last September, Jenkins said Trump was “no different than a troll on social media.”
The Eagles are the first Super Bowl-winning team after Trump’s attacks on the league and its players who had chosen to demonstrate during the national anthem. Last September, Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”
The week after Trump made those comments, protests became more wide-spread throughout the league, with entire teams demonstrating and showing unity. The Eagles — players, coaches and executives, including Lurie — locked arms as the Star-Spangled Banner was performed.