Back in 2012, the Boston Bruins were invited to Barack Obama’s White House to celebrate the team’s Stanley Cup win. However, goalie Tim Thomas decided that he would not make the trip because he didn’t approve of how powerful and cumbersome the federal government had become.
At the time, Thomas took to his Facebook page to explain his reasons: “I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.”
Thomas went on to say that because he is a “free citizen” he did not visit the White House with his team adding that his decision was not about any particular party or politician. In fact, the player blamed both parties equally for the growth of big government and the obviation of the U.S. Constitution.
But his explanation was not good enough for Sports Illustrated. The venerable sports magazine said the player was flat-out wrong not to visit Obama’s White House and that a visit with the president of the United States was the “wrong place and time” to make such statements.
“Thomas was wrong not because he holds those particular views on the government. He is certainly entitled to them. That is his legal right — one of the things that is truly great about this country. Not every nation is so fortunate,” wrote the magazine’s Stu Hackel. “But Thomas went wrong when he decided to use this particular time and place to exercise his right.”
Hackel went on to insist that the team’s visit to the White House was not the time for players to act as individuals because the event was for the team, not any particular player. Not only that, but it was “disrespecting” the whole country.
“Tim Thomas may think he’s protesting what he sees as some sort of government wrongdoing,” the haughty Hackel wrote. “But — whether he realizes it or not — he’s really being disrespectful to the people of the United States. That’s who he snubbed here.”
His team, the Boston Bruins, are what this event was all about. They are the object of the celebration — not the government, not the president, not even the Constitution. This was all about the Boston Bruins being acknowledged as the best team in hockey.
And if there’s one thing that makes a hockey team great, it’s unity, that none of the individuals put themselves ahead of the team. This is one the most fundamental principles in the sport. In fact, putting yourself ahead of the team is one of the worst things a hockey player can do. It violates that fundamental principle.
And that’s exactly what Tim Thomas — who wants to paint himself as a man of principle — did. He put himself above his team.
Hackel continued for several more paragraphs before ending with a body slam to the hockey player.
“A segment of fans and media observers, who likely agree with Tim Thomas’s politics or don’t really understand the notion of principle, have now hailed him as some sort of righteous figure. He’s not,” Hackel concluded. “There’s nothing heroic in what he did. He trampled on the only principle that really matters here, the one that got him invited to the White House in the first place. He misguidedly and unprofessionally turned his back on the group that propelled him into public prominence and the sport that has made him wealthy. Where’s the principle in that?”
But Hackel wasn’t alone in his condemnation of the goalie. Others piled on.
Joe McDonald of ESPN also attacked Thomas: “Tim Thomas put himself above the team,” McDonald cried. He added that Thomas picked the wrong time to make a statement and continued saying, “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.”
James Hardie from Bleacher Report then added his two cents: “If Thomas was a real man, he would have gone to the Boston Bruins management and ownership, returned the money from his contract and quit the balance of it by retiring—so he could exercise his rights as a free citizen.”
The Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont also hammered the goalie: “Yesterday was not about politics and government until Thomas made it about politics and government. The day, long set on the calendar was a day when the Boston Bruins were asked to visit Pennsylvania Avenue to celebrate what they did as a team last season. It was their day in the national spotlight until Thomas didn’t show, and then the focal point became, much the way it would be in a hockey game, on the guy who was no longer standing in goal.”
DuPont exclaimed that Thomas was “Shabby. Immature. Unprofessional. Self-centered. Bush league.”
There were many more, of course, but these excerpts tend to show the hypocrisy of the liberal sports media that is now — nearly universally — supporting the Philadelphia Eagles for not going to the White House.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.