The Philadelphia Eagles opted not to respond directly to United States president Donald Trump after their invite to the White House was revoked.
The White House announced on Monday the Eagles' invitation to an event to celebrate their Super Bowl LII triumph had been withdrawn, a statement reading: "The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow.
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2018
"They disagree with their president because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honour of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country. 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 honour our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the national anthem."
However, instead of hitting back at Trump, the Eagles released a statement praising the team's accomplishments in winning a first Super Bowl title in franchise history.
"It has been incredibly thrilling to celebrate our first Super Bowl Championship. Watching the entire Eagles community come together has been an inspiration," it read. "We are truly grateful for all of the support we have received and we are looking forward to continuing our preparations for the 2018 season."
It has been reported that fewer than 10 members of the Eagles' roster were planning on attending the White House celebration and, while the organisation exercised restraint, Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney did not hold back in criticising the president.
I’m proud of the Eagles on & off the field. Our players represent the diversity of our nation—a nation where we're free to express our opinions. Disinviting them only proves the President is not a true patriot.— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) June 5, 2018
City Hall is always open for a celebration. https://t.co/kU7LZkBNin
"Disinviting them from the White House only proves that our president is not a true patriot," Kenney said in a statement. "But a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend."
The NFL Players' Association also hit out at Trump in a statement that read: "Our union is disappointed in the decision by the White House to disinvite players from the Philadelphia Eagles from being recognised and celebrated by all Americans for their accomplishment. This decision by the White House has led to the cancellation of several player-led community service events for young people in the Washington, DC area.
"NFL players love their country, support our troops, give back to their communities and strive to make America a better place."
Last month, the NFL announced it will allow players to remain in the locker room while the anthem plays but will fine players and other personnel on the field who "do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem."
Trump previously stated that he agreed with the NFL's decision but, amid the backlash to the announcement over the Eagles' cancelled visit, he said: "Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling", in a tweet on Tuesday.
The NFL is facing labour grievances from ex-San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, both of whom claim they have been blacklisted due to their decisions to kneel during the anthem.