After a sports championship, the politics

The convergence of sports and politics is usually an ugly scene and now that President Donald Trump is prepared to exercise the office’s traditional — and incredibly tired — welcoming of a sports team, it’s going to get uglier.

That much is clear in the immediate aftermath of the New England Patriots Super Bowl victory on Sunday night.

Some players say they’ll refuse to go to the White House.

Martellus Bennett was first, telling the Dallas Morning News he’s not worried what the Patriots’ owner might think. Of course he not worried. He’s a free agent looking for a payday after a Super Bowl win and the Patriots don’t give paydays to free agent players. He’ll be an ex-Patriot by the time the team comes a callin’ at the White House.

Devin McCourty, who might eventually be an exception to the Patriots’ spendthrift ways, was much more direct in an email to Time about why he’s not going,

“Basic reason for me is I don’t feel accepted in the White House,” he said. “With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won’t.”

These won’t be the first athletes to skip White House honors, but it will be a chance to evaluate whether the sportstalk crowd is consistent in how they view it.

In 2013, former Minnesota Viking Matt Birk wanted nothing to do with President Barack Obama and boycotted the event.

“I would say that I have great respect for the office of the presidency, but about five or six weeks ago, our president made a comment in a speech and he said, ‘God bless Planned Parenthood,’” he told KFAN at the time.

After winning the Stanley Cup in 2012, Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas also passed, issuing a statement through the league about the size of government.

“I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.

This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government.

Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.

Despite the goalie’s best effort, his boycott made no difference.

We will hear that athletes should just stick to sports. In a Twitter thread hours after the team’s parade in Boston on Tuesday, Bennett responded:

  • wjc

    Preach, Martellus! He is speaking the truth!

  • Postal Customer

    Finally, a Patriot I can cheer for.

  • Ben Chorn

    Tom Brady didn’t go in 2015, and I don’t think he ever said why.

    I didn’t see anyone getting as worked up as people are now over Bennett over Brady not going. Bennett was getting flack before his political rant for not going to the White House.

  • Gary F

    Matt Birk didn’t go a few years ago because Obama said ” Thank you Planned Parenthood, God bless you”

    Of course this didn’t near the press coverage. I wonder why?

    • I gave it the exact same coverage I gave Tom Thomas, McCourty and Bennet.

    • BJ

      Crap I heard it all the time. Matt is a pretty big deal in town, it made a lot of sports talk and even none sports talk.

  • Mike Worcester

    Perhaps we should have learned our lesson when Babe Ruth and President Calvin Coolidge collided; that sports and chief executives don’t mix well.

    http://www.baseball-almanac.com/prz_scc.shtml

  • Zachary

    I wonder if anyone has ever said “Meh- I just don’t want to go. I think I’ll stay home with my kids, maybe play some video games and unwind. After all, I just won the Super Bowl!”

    Forget politics, it’s probably a big hassle.

  • Heb Ienek

    My hat’s off to Martellus. His campaign of self sufficiency and success is much needed and worthy of respect, but he best have a care.

    The concerted attacks on Herman Cain, Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson, Alvita King, Mia Love and other prominent black leaders that have dared to swim against the stream of the Democratic party’s agenda of dependence are an admonition against being unprepared for the back lash.

  • Barton

    Does anyone know if this rumor/myth I heard years ago is true? That the NFL (or MLB, or whatever sports organization it is) actually pays for the privilege to go to the White House? And I don’t mean just by paying for everyone’s flight and hotel.

    What I heard is that access – yes, access – is paid for through their marketing budgets.

    Anyone know?

  • rallysocks

    //He’s a free agent looking for a payday after a Super Bowl win and the Patriots don’t give paydays to free agent players.//

    Does this mean what I think it means? The rest of the team gets paid for winning the Super Bowl but free agents don’t?

    Also, why, why, why do professional sports teams get to go to the White House after winning a championship. Why do they even get a parade? We hear non-stop betching about protests and who has to pay for security, clean up, etc. for people exercising their rights. I can only imagine how much a parade for paid athletes costs.

    Seriously people, they’re just games and just athletes. When one of them cures cancer or Parkinson’s or Alzheimers, then I’m all for a big payday, a trip to the White House and a national parade.

    • Belichick uses a system. When it comes time to pay players, he gets rid of them and picks up draft choices and wins Super Bowls while they’re still on their rookie contracts. There’s a long line of Patriots stars. And keep in mind, while he was coach of the Browns, he got Bernie Kosar.

      He jettisoned Jamie Collins in the middle of THIS season (third rounder) and the defense got BETTER. He traded chandler Jones to Arizona for a second round pick, then used it to trade it to New Orleans for two picks , which he turned into Malcolm Mitchell, who became Tom Brady’s second -favorite receiver at some point in the season.

      It’s a business.

      He’s not going to do that with Brady, yet.

      But you watch. In a year or two — maybe sooner — Gronkowski will be gone by the same route.