CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Less than 24 hours after President Trump rescinded an invitation to the White House for the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles, Panthers receiver Torrey Smith is speaking out.
"The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow," Trump wrote in a statement. "They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor 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 honor our great country, pay tribute to the heroes who fight to protect it, and loudly and proudly play the National Anthem. I will be there at 3 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America."
Smith, who was traded to Carolina earlier this year, has been a vocal critic of Trump since he took office last January. Before playing in Super Bowl 52, Smith told reporters he wouldn’t visit the White House even if the team was invited after winning. Other notable players who said they wouldn't accept Trump's invite were Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long.
“It’s not about being disrespectful or to the office,” Smith said. “I have a lot of respect for the office."
In April, Smith told NBC Charlotte the narrative of the players' protests during the national anthem has been lost and shifted for political purposes.
So when Trump canceled the celebration, Smith took to Twitter, saying it was a “cowardly act” by the White House and accused Trump of spreading "the false narrative that players are anti-military." He was also quick to point out that no Eagles players took a knee during the national anthem last season.
“You’re going to argue with me about not wanting to go for simply a photo op with someone who I don’t feel respects us as a leader. It says a lot because we hold our athletes to higher expectations than we do the president of the United States," Smith told NBC Charlotte.
On Tuesday, President Trump doubled down on his decision to not have the Eagles at the White House, tweeting "NFL, no escaping to Locker Rooms!" Trump's tweet made reference to the NFL's new national anthem policy, which requires all players on the field to "stand and show respect" during the anthem or requires them to stay in their team's locker room.
Smith fired back at Trump with a tweet of his own: