FLASHBACK: Media Attacked NHL Player For Skipping White House Visit Under Obama

David Hookstead | Smoke Room Editor-in-Chief

People seem to have forgotten that the tone has changed a lot on athletes skipping White House visits.

The Eagles have been in the news nonstop ever since President Trump disinvited them from their Wednesday visit after it became clear many players weren’t going. ESPN has hardly been critical of the Super Bowl champions at all for skipping the White House event.

Well, that’s not how ESPN always handled situations like this. An article from the network’s Joe McDonald in 2012 was incredibly critical of Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas for skipping out on the White House under Obama. (RELATED: NFL PLAYER’S UNION RESPONDS TO TRUMP CANCELING EAGLES’ WHITE HOUSE VISIT)

McDonald wrote the following in his article, which was titled, “Tim Thomas put himself above team”:

There’s no denying Thomas’ patriotism. He represented Team USA as an Olympian and has called it one of his most memorable moments of his career.

But when the president of the United States invites you and all your teammates to the White House to honor your Stanley Cup championship, you go and represent the team.

On Monday, Thomas instead chose to represent himself.

Thomas’ absence was uncalled for. The president has more important things to worry about with Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

But it’s going to be interesting to see what this does to the State of the Bruins.

That’s sure a different tone than we’ve experienced in the past few days. Is it because Thomas chose not to goo because he thought the federal government had too much power? ESPN was also hardly the only outlet critical of Thomas. Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated also both wrote up critical pieces on Thomas. (He was even painted as “racist” at the time, since his three kids all have names starting with “K.”) Yes, I don’t see any major sports outlets criticizing the Eagles for their antics prior to a scheduled meeting with Trump that led to being disinvited. (RELATED: Trump Cancels Eagles Reception Over National Anthem Protests)
It’s almost like there’s a double standard or something at play here. Surely, nothing that nefarious would ever happen with the media, right?
Here’s the reality of the situation. I’m going to the White House if I ever get invited, and it doesn’t matter who the president is. I don’t care if it’s Bush Jr., Obama, Trump, Reagan, Carter or anybody else. The president is the head of the country, and I would respect the office no matter what. At the same time, I would also apply the same standard of criticism across the board. If you didn’t like Tim Thomas not going, then you better not like the fact the Eagles and the Warriors both didn’t go. This isn’t a cafeteria discussion where we can just pick and choose what standards to follow.
Would I have told Thomas to go to the White House? Yes, I would have, and I’d tell everybody else to go. If you’re going to be critical of one, then you have to be critical of all. Maybe consistency is just a little too much to ask for these days.
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David Hookstead

Smoke Room Editor-in-Chief
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