For decades (dating back to the days of President Calvin Coolidge), successful championship teams have been extended invitations to visit the White House. I'm assuming the Bengals will receive such an invitation next year.
And every so often, a player will skip on the visit. Recently, Matt Birk, center for the Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens, chose to skip the customary visit to the White House this past week.
Birk was rather blunt, and forthright in his decision to eschew the visit. He is an active, devout Catholic, and outspoken as a pro-life advocate and defender of marriage. As such, he stated that President Obama's benediction ("Thank you Planned Parenthood. God bless you.") upon the nation's largest abortion performer (over 300,000 abortions last year) was something that he could not endorse.
A few recent NFL players who skipped the White House visit:
- Desmond Bishop missed the Packers 2011 White House visit, but not by choice. He forgot his ID.
- James Harrison skipped on meeting GW Bush in 2006, and Obama in 2009. He gave no real reason.
- Dan Hampton of the 1986 Bears skipped a recent invitation that was a make-up for their missed visit from the 1980's which was cancelled thanks to the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion
- Mark Chamura skipped the 1997 Packers visit with Bill Clinton. The popular assumption was political reasons, although 'charity golf outing' was the excuse used.
Some non-NFL players who have skpped:
- Tim Thomas (NHL) skipped a 2012 visit with Obama. His absence was stated as a moral disagreement with Obama's "big govt".
- Manny Ramirez (MLB) skipped a 2007 visit with GW Bush in office. He reason seemed political, but was not bluntly stated.
- Michael Jordan (NBA) skipped after their 1991 championship. His claimed reason was because he's too private a person to go visit.
- Larry Bird (NBA) skipped after the 1984 title run, and never gave a real reason.
- Various NASCAR drivers have skipped for "scheduling conflicts"
We need something to chew on before camp, so what do you think about players skipping the White House visits in general, and more specifically, Matt Birk's absence?