Since 1980, it has been customary for the President of the United States to honor Super Bowl winning teams. (Source: ESPN, Thomas Neurmann, Mar 1, 2016)

It is also not uncommon for athletes to decline invitations to these ceremonies for various reasons, including political.

Larry Bird (1984) and Michael Jordan (1991) have said no to the White House.  Even Tom Brady passed up the opportunity 2 years ago.

But, perhaps no player boycott has been more high profile than 6 members of this year’s NFL championship team (New England Patriots) who have publicly announced their intentions to refuse the traditional ceremonial visit.

Four of these six players (Chris Long, Devin McCourty, Martellus Bennett and LeGarrette Blount) have implied the basis for their snub is opposition to President Trump and/or his policies.

Whatever their reasons, I won’t begrudge their decision(s).  I’ve never walked in their shoes and this is a free country.  They can and should make any choice they want on this front without commentary from people like me.

But, I wish they would change their minds.

During this time when we are so divided as a nation, we desperately need high profile people like the Patriots players to provide an example of what true collaboration looks like.

The White House trip could be a great opportunity for them to either step forward, put their personal reasons aside and come together as a team to unite in front of the nation.

Or, rather than unilaterally deciding that they each won’t go to the White House for personal reasons, they could try to open a positive dialogue with the President before the ceremonial visit.  This would show initiative and provide an opportunity to make something constructive come out of the event.

Again, it’s not my decision and I respect any person who has the fortitude to stand up for what they believe in.

It’s just that this event could be a huge opportunity to help us come together as a nation when we need it the most.

We’ll just have to wait and see what happens in May/June when the ceremony usually takes place.

In the meantime, I hope that the boycotting players would reconsider for the sake of unity.


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