Fine, Donald. I’ll take the bait. We know that every time your comb-over tingles with a sense of impending doom, you break out old reliable: the national anthem debate, here deployed against our 2018 Super Bowl champion Eagles, a team whose players spent the entire season standing for the song.
Because I can already feel my inbox bursting with Trumpian fact-checkers (never have I written a more oxymoronic phrase), yes, I know some players raised their fists in protest before several games this year. But this is the kind of bad-faith nitpicking that our commander-in-chief and his cronies at Fox News want us to spend the next three weeks on, leaving him free to continue threatening the special counsel on Twitter. And, you know, misspelling “counsel.”
All Trump can do is try to rile our anger and fear, throwing red meat to the 38 percent who would support him even if he dropped a wide-open pass in the Super Bowl. (Oh, wait.) This includes the scant few reverse-bandwagoners I’ve seen, Eagles fans with so little sense of local pride and social justice that they’re siding with a guy from New York who willingly hobnobs with known cyborg Tom Brady and was literally attacked by our mascot not two years ago.
Trump was obviously afraid of a repeat. pic.twitter.com/zLNoN2zcpt
— Stephanie Farr (@FarFarrAway) June 5, 2018
It’s tempting here to say that Trump ruins everything. He certainly ruins enough. He normalizes racism and hate and deploys it to suit his increasingly dire legal prospects. He hides behind the military men and women who have to answer to him to stick it to a team of players who have done more to help our city than he ever has. But he doesn’t get to ruin this. Who cares about going to the White House, anyway?
In normal times, this would be an honor. But any normal president, Democrat or Republican, would have celebrated these guys for, let’s see: exercising their First Amendment rights or using their status to champion the issues that have plagued our city and country since its founding. Even if every single one of them knelt, all should have been invited. A normal president might have used the opportunity to start a conversation.
But of course we live in a time where the president can’t do normal presidential things.
Look, I too am a bandwagoner. But what I loved about this team is how the players represent us as a city. They’ve achieved something huge for Philadelphia — but so many of them are trying to make it better in ways that go beyond winning a game. (The best game ever played, mind you.) And if Jason Kelce wasn’t proof enough, they’re becoming real Philadelphians, because they’re not having this nonsense.
One by one, they’re meticulously fact-checking the president’s statements. They’re telling off Fox News, which shamefully — even for them — broadcast photos of players kneeling in prayer when they couldn’t scrounge up any of them kneeling during the anthem. Heaven help us if our boys get their hands on some snowballs. (Fox has since apologized.)
Trump hasn’t ruined this for us. He’s giving us another opportunity to show who we are as a city. So at 3 p.m., when he holds his marching-band celebration of patriotism, sans the greatest football team on the face of the earth, do this instead, and do it tomorrow and the next day too. Go donate to the foundation of the Eagles player who you feel has angered Trump the most.
Maybe the Malcolm Jenkins Foundation. It helps kids in underserved communities build better lives through scholarship, mentoring and athletic programs and feeds hungry children.
Maybe write a check to one of the four educational outreach programs that Chris Long donated his last 10 game checks of 2017 to help.
Or maybe like former tight end Trey Burton get involved with the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, which raises resources for child sexual abuse survivors. Or Carson Wentz’s free food truck initiative.
When it comes down to it, besides being charitable out of spite, the only fitting response to Trump’s de-invitation is the most Philadelphian one: No one wanted to go anyway.