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April 23, 2018

Eagles officially invited to White House, but will the Super Bowl champs actually go?

In case you hadn't heard, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots, 41-33, in the Super Bowl. Nick Foles was the MVP – and caught a touchdown pass. Fans went crazy. One guy was so excited that he actually ate horse sh*t. It was a whole thing.

Anyway, it's been tradition since the 1980s for the Super Bowl champions to be invited to The White House for a congratulatory visit.  

However, there hadn't been any word about a potential visit in the two and a half months since the Birds' victory over the Patriots, which was interesting to say the least. Brady and Pats owner Robert Kraft have been Team Trump since the beginning, and the Eagles, well, let's just say they've had more than a few outspoken players that don't mind publicly disagreeing with the president, including safety Malcolm Jenkins.

But, as it turns out, there's nothing to those rumors of an anti-Eagles conspiracy brewing over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

According to The New York Times, the Eagles have indeed received an invitation and have been working with The White House to figure out timing. Furthermore, it reported, the two sides "hope to have something finalized in the next couple of weeks,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday:

The league turned into a political piñata last year after the president lambasted the league for not forcing players to stand for playing of the anthem. The attacks prompted some fans to walk out of stadiums because of the protests by players, who were trying to highlight social injustice and police brutality against African-Americans.

The Eagles are the first team to win the Super Bowl since Mr. Trump first attacked the league last September, when he referred generically to a protesting player as “son of a bitch,” and urged owners to fire players who did not stand for the anthem. His comments escalated the issue of protests into a roiling national debate and, for several weeks, inspired more players to protest.

“We have been in contact with White House representatives and are currently discussing the logistics of an upcoming visit to Washington,” a spokesman for the Eagles said on Monday, acknowledging publicly for the first time that the team had been invited. “We are honored to receive this invitation and view this not only as an opportunity to be recognized for our on-field accomplishments, but also as an opportunity to engage in productive dialogue with the leaders of our country.”  []

That last part about engaging in "productive dialogue" may actually be the most important part here. Earlier this year, it was reported that several socially active players – like Jenkins, Chris Long and Torrey Smithwould skip a visit to see Trump, assuming they were even invited.

But even if some (or all) of the Eagles players ultimately decide to skip the visit, they'll have their owner's blessing.

Jeffrey Lurie has previously supported Jenkins and other players in their decision to raise a fist during the anthem. He's also one of the more liberal owners in the league, and while the casual fan may not be aware of his political leanings, his fellow owners and many players (especially on the Eagles) are.

How? Well according to The New York Times, Lurie made his thoughts on the current White House clear during private league meetings, like the one in October following Trump's attacks on the NFL in which they were discussing donating money to various charities focused on eliminating social injustice. At one point during that meeting, a player reportedly said he was struggling to trust the owners because they were Trump supporters. 

Mr. Lurie took exception.

“Another fact I want to throw out there: Many of us have no interest in supporting President Trump,” Mr. Lurie said, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The New York Times. “Yes, there are some. There are some players who do, too.

“But this is not where you brandish a group of people because they own assets in a sport we love, supporting what many of us perceive as, you know, one disastrous presidency,” he said, using a vulgarity to emphasize “disastrous,” then adding: “Don’t quote me.”   []

Lurie better hope The White House canceled its subscription to "The Failing New York Times."

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin

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