I don’t care. That’s right, I said it. I don’t care.
When it comes to professional athletes going to the White House to celebrate their respective championship, I’m not one that gets too worked up about the team’s attendance.
At least six New England Patriots have said they will not be making the trip to visit with President Donald Trump. Those six players are Martellus Bennett, Devin McCourty, LeGarrette Blount, Chris Long, Alan Branch, and Dont’a Hightower.
By the time the Patriots make the trip to Washington, D.C, there might even be more than six players who announce they won’t be attending.
Here’s what we know: they won’t be the first to skip the White House visit, and they won’t be the last.
In fact, Tom Brady missed the team’s trip two years ago, after the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX. Brady’s excuse was that he had a previously planned family commitment.
There are some who still wonder whether Brady’s absence that day was political. The people who believe it was will point to Brady’s three previous visits to the White House as a Super Bowl champion, when George W. Bush was President. They’ll also look at Brady’s friendship with current President Trump.
Brady is adamant that it wasn’t political. Perhaps we’ll truly never know. But the point I’m trying to make here is, it doesn’t bother me either way.
Whether you don’t like the President or you’d rather go sip on a Mai Tai at an exotic resort, if you don’t make it to the White House as a pro athlete who just won a championship, it doesn’t bother me one bit.
There are many things that get me fired up. Skipping a White House visit is not one of them.
However, I’d be lying if I told you there wasn’t one exception. There was one instance where I questioned someone who decided to no-show with the rest of his team.
That was in 2012, when the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins visited then-President Barack Obama. Goaltender Tim Thomas declined the invitation and decided to stay home, while the rest of the Bruins went to the White House.
Thomas released a statement, saying he “exercised his right as a Free Citizen.” He went on to say his choice was not political because “both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country.” That situation, which he referenced to open the statement, was that he believed “the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.”
Now, I’m not sure if Thomas released this statement from his bunker or not, but either way, that’s not the issue I had. He has the right to do whatever he wants and express whatever opinions he has of the government.
What bothered me was, Thomas was the only American on the damn team. Alright, so defenseman Steven Kampfer was also American. But let’s be honest, he wasn’t truly part of the “championship” roster that season. So, yes, Thomas was the only American on the Stanley Cup champion Bruins in 2011.
I’ve never really criticized Thomas for skipping the White House visit. But he’s the only pro athlete that I can remember questioning about it. To me, it would have been nice if the only American on the team — especially one that played arguably the biggest role in winning the Stanley Cup — would choose to represent our country while visiting the President of the United States of America.
Thomas joined a list of formidable champions — players and/or management — who had skipped White House visits in the past: Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Theo Epstein, just to name a few. Brady was added to that list a few years later. And like I said, they won’t be the last.
If that gets you all worked up, then that’s your problem, not mine. Even if someone comes out and cries “politics” as they choose not to attend with the rest of their team, that’s something they have to live with, not me. Their political thoughts and beliefs do not control my life, and they never will.
And as the Patriots get ready to visit President Trump, the team’s attendance at the White House won’t define who they are as a team that came back from a 28-3 deficit to win the Super Bowl in overtime.
The only thing I’ll remember these Patriots for is what they did on the field.
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