President Donald Trump warned NFL players on Tuesday about “escaping” to locker rooms during the playing of the National Anthem after he rescinded an invitation for the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles to visit the White House.
“We will proudly be playing the National Anthem and other wonderful music celebrating our Country today at 3 P.M., The White House, with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus. Honoring America!” Trump posted on Twitter.
He added, “NFL, no escaping to Locker Rooms!,” a reference to a new NFL policy giving players the option of remaining off the field during the playing of the anthem if they choose not to stand for it. Last month, the NFL announced teams could choose to require athletes in their arenas to stand during the playing of the anthem or face fines.
Trump announced Monday he would be canceling the Eagles’ visit over the controversy about standing for the National Anthem at NFL games, and instead hosting a “Celebration of America” event. In a follow-up tweet on Tuesday, Trump touted other championship teams that had visited the White House during his presidency.
The decision to cancel the Eagles’ visit over the protests — which were spurred by black athletes over what they believe is systemic abuse by police against people of color — threatens to reignite a long-simmering, racially-tinged controversy.
Players on the Eagles are some of the most outspoken social justice activists in the NFL, and multiple players took part in the protests during the anthem over the last two seasons. Many players from the team were not planning on attending the ceremony as a protest of Trump, his policies and his outspoken criticism of players who chose to kneel during the anthem.