A White House tribute to the Miami Dolphins and their perfect 1972 season has become a political football with three former players snubbing the event because of their opposition to President Barack Obama.
"We've got some real moral compass issues in Washington," Hall of Fame center Jim Langer told the Sun-Sentinel
. "I don't want to be in a room with those people and pretend I'm having a good time. I can't do that. If that [angers] people, so be it."
Former offensive lineman Bob Kuechenberg chose to be more diplomatic about his refusal.
"I want to be careful, because mom said if you have nothing good to say about someone, then don't say anything," he told the newspaper. "I don't have anything good to say about someone," but added:
"I just don't believe in this administration at all. So I don't belong. Anyone on the left or the right has to respect one man's opinion."
Manny Fernandez kept his political views to himself, but bluntly explained, "I'll just say my views are diametrically opposed to the president's. Enough said. Let's leave it at that. I hope everyone enjoys the trip who goes."
Obama is scheduled Tuesday to welcome the 1972 Dolphins to honor the only team — then or now — to go 17-0. Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Don Shula is expected to accompany the players, and Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti told the New York Daily News
the event was "a long time coming, but we’re finally getting there."
The '72 Dolphins didn’t make it to the White House in the months after their Super Bowl victory because President Nixon was immersed in the Watergate scandal.
Two other of the elite Dolphin team reportedly are on the fence about their attendance for the same political reasons. They were not identified.
Langer said he was first asked informally about a year ago if he'd go to the Obama White House, and blunted responded: "No, never," the paper reported. But he insisted he doesn’t blame his teammates for going.
"I think it's great if [other players] want to have that function at the White House," Langer said. "I have other stuff to do."
Kuechenberg said he’d go fishing with his 4-year-old grandson Max instead.\
They’re not the first to boycott the White House because of disagreement with Obama’s politics, the paper reported.
Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk bowed out of the NFL champions to protest the president's abortion stance
And Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas passed on the White House trip in 2012 because the government, "has grown out of control, threatening the rights, liberties, and property of the people," he wrote on the team’s website
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