The Chicago Cubs did everything in their power to avoid it and now the onus is falling squarely on the New England Patriots.
After a monumental comeback victory to win Super Bowl LI, the Patriots will be granted the customary invitation to visit the White House for a ceremony with the president. They will be the first major professional sports team presented with this opportunity under the presidency of Donald Trump.
And that's where things get a little hairy.
In case you haven't heard, The Donald isn't exactly Mr. Popularity these days. In fact, for many athletes, the thought of putting on a suit and a fake smile in the presence of Trump seems less appealing than spending the day at the DMV on the day after a root canal.
Typically, when the president invites a team to the White House to honor them, it's a no-brainer for the vast majority of the members of the organization. They simply go and soak in the experience, regardless of political leanings.
Sure, there's a Tim Thomas here or a Manny Ramirez there. Heck, even Tom Brady and Larry Bird have passed on POTUS meetings. Bird offered this gem in response to why he skipped on Ronald Reagan in 1984: "If the president wants to see me, he knows where to find me." But all of those were fairly isolated decisions. When Brady blew off the Barack Obama White House, he sugar-coated it by citing a scheduling conflict as the reason.
With Trump, it's a whole new ballgame.
The Cubs won the World Series last November and were able to cram a visit in with former President Obama before he left office last month. The tradition usually calls for a World Series champ to go to the White House during the following regular season. Of course, that would've meant a visit with Trump, and it appears Theo Epstein, Joe Maddon and the rest of the Cubbies weren't all that cool with that.
From MLB to the NFL to the NBA, outspoken resistance to Trump is easy to find.
It's only been eight days since the Patriots won their fifth Super Bowl and already players are making it known that they have no intention of being at the White House.
Martellus Bennett, Devin McCourty, Dont'a Hightower, Chris Long, LeGarrette Blount and Alan Branch have publicly stated they will not join the Pats for the Trump trip. It's pretty safe to assume more players will be added to that list as the weeks go on.
Meanwhile, Brady, head coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft all happen to be close friends of Trump's. Brady famously had a "Make America Great Again" cap in his locker during the election campaign. Belichick penned a letter of encouragement to Trump that Trump read aloud at a rally on the eve of the election. Kraft dined with Trump on Friday night.
So, one can only suppose that the Patriots power trio will gladly trek down to D.C.
The dynamic is certainly interesting. You have a star quarterback and a front office that enjoys the company of Trump and has openly sung his praises. You also have players on the team who feel completely opposite.
"I'm not going to the White House," McCourty told Time magazine. "Basic reason for me is I don't feel accepted in the White House. With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won't."
McCourty nailed it. I can't remember a time when athletes publicly expressed the notion of not feeling welcome at the White House. Judging by the way our commander-in-chief has behaved so far, it's a valid and disheartening sentiment.
But this is where we're at right now. Normalcy has been thrown out the White House windows under a Trump presidency, and that clearly extends down to the sports world.
Unlike the Cubs, there's no avoiding this for the Pats. They'll have to tackle the Trump predicament head-on, and they'll be setting the early White House visit standard.
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