When Donald Trump rescinded his invitation for the Eagles to visit the White House less than 24 hours before it happened — citing the team’s decision to only send a smaller delegation and (untruthfully) suggesting some players had taken a knee during the anthem — the President made clear he was planning to go ahead with the long-planned event anyway.
After all, Trump wrote in his official statement cancelling the meeting, there were 1,000 Eagles fans planning to attend the DC celebration — and he didn’t want to disappoint them.
So at the previously allotted time of 3 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5, the White House held a Super Bowl celebration party on the South Lawn. Except it was reframed as a national anthem party. And, per multiple reports, very few Eagles fans actually showed up.
“I counted only one or two Eagles jerseys,” said Tim Furlong of NBC10, reporting live from the scene. “We were told that the event was for fans and that the Eagles were essentially abandoning their fans,” he continued, “but the President never once mentioned the Eagles.”
Of the first six people he asked, Furlong said, not one could name the quarterback that had won the Lombardi Trophy for the Birds. “This was not in any way like a Dilworth Plaza pep rally.”
Funny he should mention that — because a couple of hours later, there was a Dilworth Plaza pep rally of sorts. It had been hurriedly put together late Monday night, had no agenda, no scheduled speakers and no specific leader.
Even so, around two or three dozen Eagles fans showed up to the City Hall rally, ready to show their hometown pride.
There was some confusion at first, since the Facebook event that had popularized the gathering hadn’t specified exactly where people should meet, but there were enough people wearing Eagles jerseys and tees that eventually a crowd coalesced on the North Apron.
One similarity between the two events: they were both very short. But the Philly event was still probably slightly longer.
Mark Rud, the 28-year-old Philly resident who organized the Dilworth rally, stood at the front of the group and shouted a few words sans microphone, then invited the group to sing the Eagles fight song. Which they lustily did. And then dispersed.
Which was always Rud’s plan. “I have no idea what’s going to happen,” he told Billy Penn before the event. “The idea is we’ll just show up and yell Eagles things.”
Full disclosure about Rud: He’s actually a lifelong Green Bay Packers fan.
However, he’s lived in Philly for five years, and has grown to understand the city’s deep connection with the team. “As soon as I heard the news [Trump was cancelling],” Rud explained, “I realized that if something wasn’t going to happen in the capital, something should happen in their hometown.”
So, despite the fact that he’s never organized any kind of rally or event before, Rud jumped on Facebook and created the calendar listing. When he went to bed Monday night, there were around 18 RSVPs. When he woke up Tuesday morning, the event showed hundreds attending and more than a thousand people interested.
Though he’s not necessarily a Philly fan during the season, Rud clarified, he did root for them as underdogs in the Super Bowl, and has become even more enamored of the team because of this back-and-forth with Trump.
“In light of the disrespect emanating from the Oval Office,” Rud said, “I think most Americans should be Eagles fans today.”