CNN's Phil Mattingly shared a statement from the White House indicating the two parties disagreed over Trump's insistence NFL players stand for the national anthem on the sideline prior to games:
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
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!
NFL Network's Mike Garafolo offered more information on how the Eagles planned on having a smaller group of players and team officials travel to Washington, D.C.:
Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo
The Eagles held meetings with their players in recent weeks and, according to sources, Jeff Lurie didn't want to put the players in a tough spot so he decided to send a smaller contingent. Other players were going to have an optional day at the facility. Now, no trip to D.C.
Garafolo also reported the Eagles had decided on a group of fewer than 10 representatives to attend the White House ceremony. Former Eagle Torrey Smith, who was a part of the Super Bowl-winning team, responded to Trump's decision:
This would've been the second year the Super Bowl champions sent a smaller delegation to the White House. A number of prominent stars, including Tom Brady, Martellus Bennett, Dont'a Hightower and LeGarrette Blount, were absent when the New England Patriots traveled to the nation's capital in 2017.
The NFL recently enacted a new policy regarding the national anthem that requires players to stand for the anthem if they're present on the sidelines. Players can opt instead to remain in the locker room until the anthem concludes.
The move came after Trump was vocal in his criticism of the protest movement sparked by free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He said last fall he hoped NFL owners would punish players who knelt during the anthem.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He's fired. He's fired!'" Trump told supporters during a rally in September.
The New York Times' Ken Belson and Mark Leibovich reported NFL owners had a meeting along with NFL executives and player representatives about a month after Trump's comments. According to Belson and Leibovich, owners were "intent on finding a way to avoid Trump's continued criticism."