- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The Philadelphia Eagles’ visit to the White House could be even more entertaining than the city’s first-ever Super Bowl win — provided the team ever gets there.

The organization is in discussions with the White House on the customary congratulatory ceremony after a season that saw President Trump battle with the NFL over the player take-a-knee protests.

“We have been in contact with White House representatives and are currently discussing the logistics of an upcoming visit to Washington,” the team said in a statement. “We are honored to receive this invitation and view this not only as an opportunity to be recognized for our on-field accomplishments, but also as an opportunity to engage in productive dialogue with the leaders of our country.”

Several players — including safety Malcolm Jenkins and defensive end Chris Long — have already said they will not attend, but the biggest question lies with billionaire owner Jeffrey Lurie, a longtime Hillary Clinton supporter who’s not a fan of Trump.

During the NFL’s October meeting, Lurie reportedly called the Trump presidency “disastrous,” adding “don’t quote me,” according to a recording obtained by the New York Times.

Lurie has donated $9,300 to Hillary Clinton campaigns since 2006, including $2,700 for her 2016 presidential run, as reported by the Federal Election Commission.

While players have been known to skip White House visits — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was a no-show in 2015 and 2017 — it would be unusual for an owner to snub the ceremony.

Trump took on the NFL during the 2017 regular season over the protests, suggesting that owners should fire players who refuse to stand for the national anthem and zinging the league over empty seats in the stadiums.

In a Nov. 24 tweet, he said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “has lost control of the hemorrhaging league. Players are the boss!”

The Eagles still have time to decide. The last four White House visits were held April 19, June 6, April 23 and May 21.

Quarterback Nick Foles said Tuesday he would follow the team’s lead.

“Whatever the team decides, I’m going to be with the team,” Foles told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I’ve always said that about this decision. I’m a part of the organization, so whatever the organization decides, I’ll be with the organization.”

The Super Bowl LII MVP, Foles has taken online graduate courses at the Rawlings School of Divinity at Liberty University, whose president, Jerry Falwell Jr., is an outspoken Trump supporter.

Defensive end Brandon Graham told Philadelphia’s 94WIP Sports Radio in a Monday interview that he hadn’t spoken with other players but that he doesn’t plan to make the trip.

“Right now, I haven’t talked to anybody, but I’m sure we will all start talking about it as it gets close,” Graham said. “As of right now, I won’t be there. I’ll be here, enjoying and waiting on the ring ceremony. Can’t wait to look at the ring.”

Trump congratulated the Eagles immediately after their 41-33 victory over the Patriots in Minneapolis.

The NFL saw a 9.7 percent drop in television ratings during the 2017 regular season, which has been attributed in part to fan outrage over the kneeling on the one hand and a boycott organized by supporters of free-agent Colin Kaepernick on the other.

In September, Trump rescinded an invitation to the NBA champion Golden State Warriors after coach Steve Kerr and two-time MVP Steph Curry griped about attending.

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