Trump Flag Celebration

Photo by Yuri Gripas/Sipa USA

Trump Holds 'Celebration Of American Flag' Instead Of Hosting Philadelphia Eagles

June 05, 2018 - 7:04 pm
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WASHINGTON (WCBS 880/CBS News) -- Instead of holding a Super Bowl champion ceremony for the Philadelphia Eagles Tuesday, President Donald Trump held "a celebration of the American flag," with Eagles fans present at the White House.

The celebration, which featured the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus, came a day after Trump rescinded his invitation to the Eagles.

Trump disinvited the Eagles from the planned visit Monday night, citing a disagreement over standing for the national anthem before games, although none of the Eagles' players took a knee during the pre-game tradition in the 2017 season.

A source close to the players tells CBS News that fewer than 10 players committed the attending the White House event.

"Unfortunately, the Eagles offered to send only a tiny handful of representatives, while making clear that the great majority of players would not attend the event, despite planning to be in D.C. today," The White House said in a statement. "In other words, the vast majority of the Eagles team decided to abandon their fans."

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said Trump's decision "only proves that our president is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac."

Tuesday afternoon White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump's decision.

"Certainly the president has been very clear what his position is in regards to the national anthem," she told reporters.

CBS News Correspondent Steven Portnoy noted that while none of the Eagles actually did take a knee for the national anthem last season, though a couple of players did raise their fists in the air.

“The point is that the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that only about 10 of the Philadelphia Eagles were expected to be on hand here, and clearly, the president didn’t want that to be a big part of the story,” Portnoy said. “So he has disinvited them, and he says he’s going to have his own celebration here, because the fans ‘deserve better,’ is the way he put it in a statement overnight.”

Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith, who said previously that he planned to skip the visit, responded with a series of tweets after Trump rescinded the invitation.

"So many lies," he wrote, adding, "Not many people were going to go."

Smith, who played on the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia team before being traded to the Carolina Panthers in March, added: "No one refused to go simply because Trump 'insists' folks stand for the anthem. ... The President continues to spread the false narrative that players are anti-military."

(© 2018 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)