If Tim Thomas skipped Boston’s White House visit to draw attention to himself, he certainly achieved that aim. (Harry How/Getty Imates)

Now Beantown’s bearded netminder is fending off some serious flak for his decision not to join his teammates for a White House ceremony on Monday celebrating their championship run.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Thomas explained his choice, saying: “I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.”

Thomas is hardly the first athlete to use the sports platform to make a political statement.

Here are a few other memorable events involving U.S. athletes from the ‘Black Power Salute’ at the 1968 Olympics to ‘Los Suns.’

Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right) at the 1968 Olympics. (Anonymous/AP)

1968 - American track and field stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos perform the ‘Black Power salute’ during the “Star-Spangled Banner” following their medal-winning sprints at the Mexico City Olympics. Protesting: The need for equality and black rights in the U.S.

1980 - The United States and 62 other countries boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Protesting: the Soviet Union’s Christmas Day invasion of Afghanistan.

1996 - Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refuses to stand for the National Anthem before NBA games. Protesting: U.S. foreign policy and ‘tyranny’ which conflicted with his new Islamic beliefs. (Abdul-Rauf was suspended by the NBA for one game for his action.)

2004 - Blue Jays outfielder Carlos Delgado refuses to stand for “God Bless America” during 7th inning stretch. Protesting: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

2010 - The Phoenix Suns sport “Los Suns” jerseys on Cinco De Mayo for a playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs. Protesting: Arizona’s new immigration law targeting illegal immigrants.

What political statements by athletes resonated with you? And what do you think of Thomas’s decision? Was his absence a political statement? Did he let his teammates down by not joining them to celebrate their achievement? Should he have swallowed his pride and gone anyway?

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