No visit, White House-Eagles spat continues Tuesday

A second statement released by the White House and media coverage of the war of words with the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles propelled the feud into another round through the news cycle Tuesday.

Phillly.com reported fewer than 10 players planned to attend the ceremony at the White House, which was canceled by President Donald Trump in a critical statement Monday night. ESPN reported only five players committed to attending the ceremony.

The White House went a step further Tuesday, saying Eagles players "abandoned their fans" with more than 1,000 fans cleared to attend the event.

Eagles defensive end Chris Long called Fox News complicit in playing America for use of images of Philadelphia players kneeling in prayer before games -- and never during the national anthem -- last season as the network's backdrop for the story of the Super Bowl champions' rescinded invitation.

SEE ALSO: Former Eagles receiver Torrey Smith said Trump canceling White House visit is 'a cowardly act'

Long and tight end Zach Ertz used social media to challenge Fox News for its use Tuesday morning of footage of Eagles players praying before games during a segment about protests during the national anthem.

"This can't be serious," Ertz wrote on Twitter. "Praying before games with my teammates, well before the anthem, is being used for your propaganda?! Just sad, I feel like you guys should have to be better than this ..."

Long added roughly an hour later: "Imagine wanting to please the boss so very badly that you run stills of guys knelt down PRAYING during pregame," Long wrote. "Not one Eagles player knelt for the anthem this yr. Keep carrying his water to sow division while misrepresenting Christian men. Aren't many of your viewers.. nevermind.

"You're complicit in PLAYING America. This is just another day at the office for you, though. Most players (and there were many players, many players...) that wanted to opt out had decided long b4 the anthem rule came down. It wasn't discussed once in our meetings about the visit."

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Athletes and teams Trump has hosted at the White House
NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. presents a NASCAR helmet to U.S. President Donald Trump as the president welcomes Truex and his team to the White House in Washington, U.S., May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
WASHINGTON, USA - APRIL 19: U.S. President Donald Trump (C) holds up a customized jersey presented to him by 2017 Super Bowl Champions the New England Patriots during their visit to the White House in Washington, United States on April 19, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 01: U.S. President Donald Trump is presented with a jersey by team captain Ahmad Bradshaw (R) during an event with the Army Black Knights football team from the U.S. Military Academy May 1, 2018 in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC. President Trump hosted the 2017 Commander in Chief's Trophy champion to honor their victory. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with the Houston Astros, the 2017 World Series Champions, in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 28: President Donald Trump holds a Chicago Cubs jersey as he meets with members of the 2016 World Series Champions Chicago Cubs in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on Wednesday, June 28, 2017. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant holds a '45' sign. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - (L-R) With Penguins' coach Mike Sullivan, and co owners Ronald Burkle and Mario Lemieux behind, President Donald Trump honors the Stanley Cup Champions Pittsburgh Penguins in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC Tuesday October 10, 2017. The Stanley Cup Trophy is in the foreground. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: U.S. President Donald Trump hosts Team USA at the North Portico of the White House April 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Trump hosted the team to celebrate their victories in the 2018 Winter Olympics. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: U.S. President Donald Trump hosts Team USA at the North Portico of the White House April 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Trump hosted the team to celebrate their victories in the 2018 Winter Olympics. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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Later Tuesday, Fox News executive producer Christopher Wallace apologized, admitting the footage used was indeed players kneeling in prayer and not in protest:

"During our report about President Trump canceling the Philadelphia Eagles trip to the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl win, we showed unrelated footage of players kneeling in prayer. To clarify, no members of the team knelt in protest during the national anthem throughout regular or post-season last year. We apologize for the error," Wallace said through a statement tweeted from the Fox News official Twitter account.

A delegation was supposed to be in Washington on Tuesday, but President Donald Trump publicly rescinded the invitation Monday night, claiming the team didn't show proper respect for the country during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner last season.

No Eagles players took a knee during the national anthem last season.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday that Trump viewed the move as a political stunt.

"The Eagles are the ones who tried to changed their commitment at the eleventh hour," Sanders said. "If this wasn't a political stunt by the Eagles franchise, then they wouldn't have planned to attend the event and then backed out at the last minute."

A statement from the president released on Monday reads, in full:

Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney did not hold back his opinion on the matter, calling Trump "a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend."

The NFL Players Association, which is based in Washington, DC, released a statement backing the Eagles.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson confirmed in May that the team would accept an invitation to attend the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl LII championship, adding that it would be up to each player whether to attend. With the invitation pulled Monday, the Eagles returned to plans to hold practice on Tuesday. Players are not available, but are scheduled for media access on Wednesday.

"It's one of those things that, again, we're working through a ton of things, but at the same time we understand that it's an individual decision," Pederson said at the time.

Several members of the championship Eagles squad, including Long, safety Malcolm Jenkins and wide receiver Torrey Smith -- now with the Carolina Panthers -- have been vocal about their plans not to attend any White House visit due to their opposition of Trump and his policies. Jenkins told reporters in May that he would travel to Washington with his teammates but not visit the White House.

After the White House announcement Monday, Smith tweeted, "So many lies smh Here are some facts 1. Not many people were going to go 2. No one refused to go simply because Trump 'insists' folks stand for the anthem 3. The President continues to spread the false narrative that players are anti military"

Late Monday night, the Eagles issued a statement that read, "It has been incredibly thrilling to celebrate our first Super Bowl Championship. Watching the entire Eagles community come together has been an inspiration. We are truly grateful for all of the support we have received and we are looking forward to continuing our preparations for the 2018 season."

Quarterback Carson Wentz said last month he planned to be at the White House, emphasizing the recognition of the Eagles' championship achievement rather than any political aspect of the team visit.

--Field Level Media

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