The White House has blamed the Philadelphia Eagles for President Donald Trump's decision to cancel the ceremony to celebrate their Super Bowl victory.
In a statement released Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sensed "a lack of good faith" by the Eagles during discussions about the scheduled event.
According to Sanders, the Eagles notified the White House on Thursday that 81 people would attend the event, which was scheduled for Tuesday. A group of 1,000 Eagles fans also were scheduled to be a part of the ceremony.
But late Friday, the Eagles attempted to reschedule the event, according to Sanders, though it had already been announced that Trump would be traveling overseas on the team's proposed dates.
"The White House, despite sensing a lack of good faith, nonetheless attempted to work with the Eagles over the weekend to change the event format that could accommodate a smaller group of players," Sanders' statement said. "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. In other words, the vast majority of the Eagles team decided to abandon their fans."
The Eagles did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The team had been deliberating for weeks how to best approach the trip to make it an experience the players could agree on and share together.
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins had said there would be different stops built in for those who wanted to go to Washington but not participate in the White House ceremony, with the opportunity to do "as little or as much as you want."
Jenkins on Tuesday responded to the White House's statements with a tweet highlighting all the work he and his teammates are doing in the community and saying it's a "lie" to paint the Eagles' players as "anti-America, anti-flag and anti-military."
One source told ESPN's Don Van Natta that the players who did intend to travel to Washington were planning to do community events while in the capital, including visits to a school and community center. Those visits were canceled after the invitation to the White House was revoked, the NFL Players Association said in a statement Tuesday.
Jenkins, defensive end Chris Long and former Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith -- now with the Carolina Panthers -- were among those on record saying they would not visit the White House. A large group of Eagles players ultimately decided not to attend, including most -- if not all -- of the black players, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Monday. In fact, five or fewer Eagles players committed to attend the White House ceremony, a source told Van Natta.
Given the complexity of the matter, Eagles brass ultimately decided to send a small player contingent, according to sources. A source told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio that owner Jeffrey Lurie and coach Doug Pederson also were planning on making the trip.
Upon learning these facts, Trump decided to change the event so that it would be a celebration of the American flag with Eagles fans and performances by the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus.
President Trump addressed the cancellation in a tweet, writing:
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
At Tuesday's celebration, both the national anthem and "God Bless America" were played. After the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner," a heckler screamed, "Stop hiding behind the armed services and the national anthem!" His pointed remark was quickly met by boos. A man was also seen kneeling during the anthem Tuesday.
No Eagles players knelt during the 2017 regular season. One player, defensive back Ron Brooks, knelt during the preseason, but he did not make the team. There is no reported instance of Eagles players remaining in the locker room. NFL owners recently approved a new national anthem policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance but gives them the option to remain in the locker room if they prefer.
Tight end Zach Ertz responded sharply when images of himself and other teammates on bended knee praying were used by Fox News in its news report about the canceled trip to the White House.
Fox News has since issued an apology.