Within 24 hours after the New England Patriots shocked the Atlanta Falcons with their historic Super Bowl LI comeback on Sunday, two Patriot players, tight end Martellus Bennett and defensive back Devin McCourty, already confirmed that they will not be visiting Donald Trump at the White House. Since then, other players including running back LeGarrette Blount and defensive lineman Chris Long have also said they were not going. Expect for these players to be the first of many championship-winning athletes across the sports landscape to turn down an invitation to the White House from this administration.
This will be an ongoing trend and the extent of it, I predict, will be “unpresidented“, *ahem*, unprecedented in modern presidential history. After the hateful, bigoted campaign Trump ran as a candidate and the similarly objectionable and offensive policies he is trying to enact as president, including the recent travel ban executive order, any future protest by athletes should come as no surprise. And the fact that Bennett and McCourty were the first two Patriots players to take this stand should not surprise anyone either, considering they have been vocal about issues of racial and social justice throughout this season.
It took the New England tight end just a little more than an hour after the Super Bowl ended to tell reporter Brandon George his plans to not go to the White House
Patriots TE Martellus Bennett said he will not go to the White House to honor Super Bowl win. Not worried about what his owner thinks.
Brandon George (@DMN_George) February 6, 2017
McCourty followed suit a number of hours later, telling TIME, “I’m not going to the White House” in a text message. “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.”
It will be seen if any more Patriots skip the trip to the White House, but after hearing how many big NBA names have spoken out against Trump since he was elected, there will be others.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert in late November already said he wasn’t going to go visit Trump’s White House if the Cavs win the NBA Finals this June. Golden State Warriors forward David West said Trump “is the complete opposite” of what he wants to teach kids. Warriors coach Steve Kerr has spoken out against the immigration ban executive order and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been an outspoken critic of Trump and “his act” for months.
What Bennett, McCourty and all these big-name NBA personalities have seen from Trump’s behavior and rhetoric is that he views a variety of ethnic groups as monoliths. When Trump speaks about Blacks and Latinos, he almost solely talks about poverty, crime and how these racial and ethnic groups are “living in hell.” He uses damaging stereotypes of people of color to rile up his fervent white supremacist supporters who are constantly looking to other-ize these communities.
Among the many examples of this was a tweet of his from November 2015. Trump sent out this patently false graphic with phony baloney stats that were said to have come from a non-existent “Crime Statistics Bureau.”