Jeffrey Lurie: Eagles players have great respect for national anthem

Philadelphia Eagles CEO Jeffrey Lurie released a statement late Saturday night on the controversy surrounding athletes protesting during the national anthem and President Donald Trump's comments.

It reads in part:

"Having spoken with our players, I can attest to the great respect they have for the national anthem and all it represents. We at the Philadelphia Eagles firmly believe that in this difficult time of division and conflict, it is more important than ever for football to be a great unifier."

On Sunday morning, ESPN's Sal Paolantonio received the following text from Eagles' Head Coach Doug Pederson regarding President Trump's recent comments: "I didn't have any discussions with them about his remarks, however, as a team along with Military personnel and Philly police officers, we will stand together in a display of unity during the National Anthem today."

President Trump denounced protests by NFL players and rescinded a White House invitation for NBA champion Stephen Curry in a two-day rant that targeted top professional athletes and brought swift condemnation Saturday from league executives and star players alike.

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Trump comments on Curry, NFL protests anger athletes. Gray Hall reports during Action News at 6 a.m. on September 24, 2017.

Wading into thorny issues of race and politics, Trump's comments in a Friday night speech and a series of Saturday tweets drew sharp responses from some of the nation's top athletes, with LeBron James calling the president a "bum." Hours later, Major League Baseball saw its first player take a knee during the national anthem.

Trump started by announcing that Curry, the popular two-time MVP for the Golden State Warriors, would not be welcome at the White House for the commemorative visit traditionally made by championship teams: "Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!"

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A's catcher Bruce Maxwell kneels during national anthem. Nydia Han reports during Action News at 6:30 a.m. on September 24, 2017.

Later, Trump reiterated what he said at a rally in Alabama the previous night - that NFL players who kneel for the national anthem should be fired, and called on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to tell them to stand. Goodell and several team owners criticized the comments.

The Warriors said it was clear they were not welcome at the White House.

Several NFL players, starting last season with then-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have either knelt, sat or raised fists during the anthem to protest police treatment of blacks and social injustice. Last week at NFL games, four players sat or knelt during the anthem, and two raised fists while others stood by the protesters in support.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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