Tarkenton: Athletes who turn down invites to Trump's White House are 'stupid'

It's tradition for teams to be invited to the White House, but several athletes have turned down the invite.
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Fran Tarkenton thinks anyone who turns down an invitation to Donald Trump's White House is "disrespectful" and "stupid."

The NFL great, who spent the majority of his career with the Minnesota Vikings, said that in response to a question from TMZ about a recent statement Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert made.

Shumpert, who recently visited 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to be honored by President Barack Obama, told Complex Magazine that he wouldn't go to the White House if Cleveland wins the NBA Championship during Trump's presidency. (Shumpert joins a few other athletes who've suggested they wouldn't visit Trump's White House due to the controversial comments he's made.)

But Tarkenton thinks that's "stupid," telling TMZ:

"If a president of the United States, our No. 1 guy, invites you to the [White House] and you're gonna boycott it? Because why? It's stupid."

"Nobody boycotted Obama because he's black did they? No. They all went there because he was our president. And you respect our president. No matter whether you're for him or not."

It's tradition

The president has invited the championship teams to the White House to celebrate their successful season for years. It first happened in 1865, when President Andrew Johnson invited the Brooklyn Atlantics and Washington Nationals baseball clubs to the White House, ESPN said.

Now it's tradition for presidents to welcome teams to the White House. But over the years, several notable athletes have decided to skip the event – for reasons ranging from their personal political views to family reasons.

Here's a look at some of the athletes who've turned down a president's invitation:

After the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, Tim Thomas said he was sitting out the visit to the White House, explaining in a statement that it was a "choice I had to make as an individual" because he believes "the federal government has grown out of control, threatening the rights, liberties, and property of the people ..."

In 2015, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady snubbed President Obama and didn't attend the ceremony after the Pats won the Super Bowl due to a "family commitment," the Boston Herald said, but many wondered if that was the actual reason.

Dan Hampton of the Chicago Bears and Matt Birk of the Baltimore Ravens also turned down invites to Obama's White House, SportsOnEarth wrote in 2013.

And it hasn't just been Obama's White House. Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox turned down an invitation to the White House from George W. Bush, ESPN said, and the president called him out for it, saying: "I’m sorry [David Ortiz’s] running mate, Manny Ramirez, isn’t here, I guess his grandmother died again. Just kidding. Tell Manny I didn’t mean it."

James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pia Sundhage, the coach of the USA Women's National Team, both turned down invites from Bush, SportsOnEarth said.

The New York Daily News has a list of other notable athletes that have turned down White House invites, including Minnesota golfer Tom Lehman, who called President Bill Clinton a "draft-dodging baby killer."

Michael Jordan turned down an invite from George H.W. Bush for family reasons, noting he'd already met the elder Bush when he was vice president, The Week said.

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