President Donald Trump uninvited the NFL's Super Bowl LII champion Philadelphia Eagles, a team with a number of outspoken Christians, from a White House visit that was planned for Tuesday.
Minutes after the White House announced the Eagles' visit had been canceled Monday evening, Rep. Brendan Boyle and Sen. Bob Casey both made alternative offers to the team to visit the Capitol.
"I'm proud of what the @Eagles accomplished this year. I'm skipping this political stunt at the White House and just invited the Eagles to Congress. @Eagles How about a tour of the Capitol?" Casey tweeted along with a report of Trump's announcement.
"The Eagles are still welcome to visit the US Capitol. I will have Wawa coffee waiting," Boyle added in his tweet.
In his controversial statement Monday night, Trump offered to host 1,000 Philadelphia Eagles fans instead of the Eagles players after their full team was unable to make it for the White House visit.
"The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow. 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," he said.
"The Eagles wanted to send a smaller delegation, but the 1,000 fans planning to attend the event deserve better. These fans are still invited to the White House to be 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," he added.
White House officials reportedly told Politico reporter Annie Karni that last Thursday the Philadelphia Eagles submitted more than 70 names to attend the White House celebration. On Friday however the team tried to reschedule for days when the president is set to be in Singapore.
"On Mon, they said the group avail on pre-planned date wld be TWO or THREE players + owner + MASCOT," Karni said in a tweet.
David French, a prominent Tennessee attorney, Iraq veteran and a senior writer for the conservative National Review was among many critics who slammed the president Tuesday for maliciously making the cancellation of the White House visit about the National Anthem. He pointed out as well that the Eagles team consists of men who are exemplary Christians.
"...The Eagles have some of the best citizens in the NFL. The team has a strong contingent of faithful, humble Christians. He targeted them out of pure malice. Nothing more," he tweeted.
Philadelphia's Mayor Democrat Jim Kenney also ripped into the president for the move.
"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," he said.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, sparked the "Take a Knee" movement by kneeling during the performance of the national anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality and the treatment of minorities. Inflammatory comments made by the president about the players last summer however sparked a wave of players to join the protests.
No Eagles players reportedly took a knee during those protests. On Tuesday morning however, Fox News apologized after the network aired a segment which implied that Eagles players who had knelt in prayer before a game were protesting the national anthem.
"During our report about President Trump cancelling the Philadelphia Eagles trip to the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl win, we showed unrelated footage of players kneeling in prayer," Christopher Wallace, executive producer of "Fox News @ Night" with Shannon Bream, said in a statement. "To clarify, no members of the team knelt in protest during the national anthem throughout regular or post-season last year. We apologize for the error."