White House

Doug Pederson was looking forward to White House, but wants to move on

Doug Pederson was looking forward to White House, but wants to move on

It’s pretty clear today is no ordinary day at the NovaCare Complex. 

Doug Pederson found out when he walked in for his 10:30 a.m. press conference. That's when he saw about 50 reporters, many of whom were new faces, just the day after when the Eagles were initially scheduled to visit the White House before President Donald Trump canceled the event. 

“Glad to see so many people for an OTA practice,” Pederson said as he stepped behind the lectern. “This is great.” 

The next 8 1/2 minutes were mostly spent with Pederson being asked questions about the Eagles’ White House visit that wasn’t and the head coach trying to end the discussion. 

“It’s over, it’s behind us, we’re moving on,” Pederson said. 

The press conference began with a question about Pederson’s role in planning the visit to the White House. 

“This is going to be a blanket statement and then I’m not going to discuss it further,” Pederson said. 

“I was looking forward to going down, obviously. We did something last season that was very special. It’s a milestone here in the City of Philadelphia, our organization. I was looking forward to going down and being recognized as world champions. It is what it is. We’re here today, got an OTA practice. I’m focused on these next couple of days, getting through next week and onto training camp.” 

The Eagles were disinvited to the White House by Trump on Monday night, less than 24 hours before their scheduled visit in Washington D.C. At the time, the statement from the White House said the Eagles disagreed with the president’s insistence that players stand proudly for the national anthem, and also cited the smaller delegation as a reason for the canceled visit. 

On Tuesday, the White House released a new statement, saying the Eagles were only going to send a “small handful” of representatives. Reports later indicated that group might have included just two players. Pederson declined to say how many players were going to attend. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called it a “political stunt” by the Eagles. 

Pederson on Wednesday was asked about that accusation. 

“I’m not discussing it. It’s over,” Pederson said. “What you’ve seen and what you've heard is enough. I’m not discussing it. I’m not going to stand here and discuss it because we’ve got two OTA practices, I got a mandatory camp next week. I’ve got to focus on that.”

This is the first time anyone from the team has spoken in a real-life public setting since the White House canceled the visit Monday evening. The Eagles were originally supposed to have media availability Monday during the day, but it was pushed back to Wednesday. 

Before Pederson’s press conference, the only public statement from the team came Monday night and didn’t even address the White House visit. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has not spoken publicly since. 

Pederson was asked if it bothered him that he was the one answering these questions instead of the owner. 

“No,” Pederson answered. “We’re united. We’re a team. Been that way since I’ve been here.” 

Instead of going to the White House, the Eagles had a light OTA practice Tuesday, which means they’ll fit in all 10 OTA practices this spring. While the Eagles had other community-related events scheduled in Washington, the team elected to practice instead. 

During that practice, Pederson said, Eagles players looked focused. 

“We’re focused on today,” the head coach said about avoiding distraction. “We’re going to get a great practice in today, tomorrow, three days next week. And our goal is 2018 and that’s motivation enough.” 

Report: Only a few Eagles players had planned to attend White House

Report: Only a few Eagles players had planned to attend White House

We’re finding out exactly what the White House meant when it said the Eagles were prepared to send “a tiny handful” of team representatives on Tuesday afternoon.

Eventually, the president canceled the event and instead held a “Celebration of America,” while the Eagles used the day to get in a lighter OTA practice.

But what constituted “a tiny handful” of representatives?

Well, according to a report by NFL Network, possibly just two players — one was Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles — were going to be on the South Lawn if the White House went through with the ceremony.

That report fits with Politico’s Annie Karni’s report earlier in the day. Karni was told by a White House official that two or three players, along with owner Jeff Lurie and Swoop — yeah, the mascot — would be the group in attendance.

Twenty minutes before President Donald Trump gathered some folks (they didn’t seem like Eagles fans) on the South Lawn, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this was a “political stunt” by the Eagles.

The Eagles still have practice on Wednesday and Thursday this week; both sessions are open to reporters. Head coach Doug Pederson is scheduled to speak with reporters at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

Who were all those 'Eagles fans' at the White House today?

Who were all those 'Eagles fans' at the White House today?

After Donald Trump announced on Monday that the smaller Eagles delegation that was planning to visit him had been disinvited, the White House issued a statement on Tuesday morning stating that, "The vast majority of the Eagles team decided to abandon their fans."

What fans were those exactly?

President Trump's statement Monday said that 1,000 fans planned to attend the event prior to the cancelation and that they would instead be treated to a celebration of America. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that "well over 1,000 of Eagles fans traveled and took time out of their schedules" to be there.

So where were all of the Eagles fans that the team allegedly abandoned?

Tough to say.

There were plenty of suits in the crowd. But not a lot of green.

Reports from ABC indicated that the "White House blasted an email to all staffers this morning inviting them to attend the event" and that many in attendance actually "had [White House] badges tucked into jackets & shirts."

Other reporters received a lot of "blank stares" from the crowd when attempting to find people actually from Philadelphia.

Perhaps the biggest indication in the lack of Birds fans was this viral tweet from NBC10's Tim Furlong: "I’ve asked 6 of the 'fans' at the White House who was the @Eagles quarterback during the super bowl. Not ONE person knew."

You can see Furlong's report from Washington below in which he said he saw literally only one or two pieces of Eagles memorabilia, but you won't see many Eagles fans in that either.