Champion Change-Up

45 strikes again! In an effort to maintain quality reporting, I will at least once and one time only provide the given name of the man whom I identify as 45 – Donald Trump. You will be hard pressed to find a situation in which I will use his name, so here forward, he will be addressed as 45. As I’ve previously stated, he’s at it again. This time, 45 has used the power of the office which he occupies to impose his will unnecessarily, just to get his way.

Just a week and a half after the NFL voted to enact a policy requiring players and members of the teams to stand on the sideline (or remain in the locker room) during the singing of the National Anthem, 45 canceled the annual White House visit of the Super Bowl Champion. The Philadelphia Eagles were crowned champions of the 2017-2018 season and earned the privilege of being honored at the White House on June 5th. The issue lies in the cry-baby approach taken by 45 with matters in which he feels that the other party or parties involved have some form of advantage. The control freak contained within him will not allow him to let things pan out – it’s always ham-fisted overreaction.

The current situation with Eagles is not unique since 45 has been in office. In 2017, after winning the NBA championship, the Golden State Warriors were in team discussion about the circumstances of their possible trip to Washington D.C. including a trip to the White House. Typically, the NBA champs will squeeze in a visit to the WH during a road trip to play the Washington Wizards. In late September, 45 tweeted:

Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team.Stephen Curry is hesitating,therefore invitation is withdrawn!

Several hours later, the Warriors organization released a statement explaining their delay in responding to the invitation. In short, while traveling, the team had not been able to come together to meet and make a decision. Steph Curry the made this statement to the media:

It’s kind of funny that [the president’s] tweet was sent out before we had a chance to get together as a team. It is what it is. My stance is the same [as] yesterday. I’m trying to cement that even further.  (video here: Steph Curry

The Warriors used their downtime in February to visit a local museum with some kids from the local elementary school which Kevin Durant attended. Adding a little additional salt to 45’s wound, both 2018 NBA finals participants have stated that they will not attend the White House after winning the title.

 Now back to the Eagles. From the top of the organization, down to the player level, the Eagles have been an outspoken group of individuals. Led by veteran standout players Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, and Torrey Smith, sideline protest were a part of their weekly run at history in the quest of the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory. Week after week, Jenkins would stand on the sideline, fist raised, with teammate Long’s arm draped over his shoulder in a show of solidarity and team unity. But a closer look reveals another level of unity, Jenkins is African-American and Long is Caucasian. The togetherness shown by the Eagle locker room is encouraging to say the least. In my opinion, this troubled 45 to some extent.

The dominoes began to fall when word got out that the Eagles would not be attending the White House as a team but would instead be sending a small contingent of less than 10 players and team employees. Reacting to Philadelphia’s refusal to demonstrate elation over the invitation, 45 canceled the visit altogether, opting to hold a ‘celebration of patriotism’. Here is a tweet issued late Monday night by the celebrity in chief himself:

The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry! cont…

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! NFL, no escaping to Locker Rooms!

Former Eagle Smith had previously stated via tweet:

So many lies smh Here are some facts 1. Not many people were going to go 2. No one refused to go simply because Trump “insists” folks stand for the anthem 3. The President continues to spread the false narrative that players are anti military

The responses to both tweets are largely populated by current and former service members supporting the player’s rights to protest, many stating that they served to protect the freedom of those who want to protest. For many, this narrative is wearing thin, but it’s quite possible that those who feel that way have never been impacted by the very issue that is at the root of the original protest by Colin Kaepernick.

In the end, this boils down to the occupant of the WH sticking his nose into the business of a private entity such as the NFL. So much so that 45 went as far as referring to protesting players as “son’s of bitches” during the ’17-’18 season. His remarks drew an instant response from players across the league who unified the following Sunday to let it be known that they’d not stand for his disrespect.

The ongoing saga of 45 versus, well, everybody will continue as long as the NFL and NBA are diverse in the ethnicity of the players of which they are comprised. As it currently stands, the annual White House visits by championship teams will be a topic of discussion. Stay tuned for more.

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