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The Early Lead
Posted at 08:28 AM ET, 01/24/2012

Tim Thomas says he skipped White House trip because ‘government has grown out of control’

Tim Thomas skipped a trip to the White House. The Stanley Cup was there, though. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)
It wasn’t about “politics or party” affiliation, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said. He chose not to join his teammates Monday at a White House reception celebrating their Stanley Cup championship for other reasons.

In a statement on Facebook, Thomas cited his belief that “the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties and Property of the People.” For that reason, Thomas said, “I exercised my right as a Free Citizen. ... This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country.”

Thomas has drawn criticism — and praise — for the decision, which he posted at 6 p.m. Monday and says will be his final comment on the matter.

“I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.
“This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government.
“Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.
“This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic. TT”

Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe thinks Thomas, a Flint, Mich., native, missed an opportunity to make his views more public — beyond the goalie mask bearing the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me,” a slogan adopted by the Tea Party. He “had a chance to tell the leader of the free world what he thinks it means to be an American today. Not just any American, mind you, but an Olympian, a multimillionaire, a hero in the city where he works, and a member of a championship team that has been a source of joy (and sorrow, too) to millions of Bostonians for nearly a century.

“Instead, Thomas took his pads and blocker to another end of town and issued his statement. He could have talked to the president. Instead, he mailed one in from the pizza stand. I think he missed his chance. I think he missed the point of the day. I think he mistreated teammates.”

ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald was more concerned about what Thomas’ perceived “me-first” message was sending to his teammates, who were left to face questions about Thomas until his statement was posted.

There’s certainly precedent for skipping White House trips. Dan Hampton, the Chicago Bears Hall of Fame lineman, opted not to join a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the team’s Super Bowl victory, saying he was “not a fan of the guy in the White House.” In 1996, Mark Chmura, a Green Bay Packers tight end and Republican, cited the Monica Lewinsky scandal as his reason for not visiting the White House.

Although the White House had no comment on Thomas’s absence, President Obama did address his contributions to the team’s championship, the Bruins’ first since 1972. “This Stanley Cup was won by defense as much as by offense,” Obama said. “Tim Thomas posted two shutouts in the Stanley Cup Finals and set an all-time record for saves in the postseason, and he also earned the honor being only the second American ever to be recognized as the Stanley Cup playoffs MVP.”

How do you feel about Thomas’s decision to exercise his “right as a free citizen” in this way? Should politics be kept out of sports? Does an invitation to the White House trump feelings about its occupant or concerns about the federal goverment?

More from the Early Lead:

Thomas not the first athlete to make a political statement

Boston Bruins visit White House minus MVP goalie

By  |  08:28 AM ET, 01/24/2012

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