By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) You want 1972 Miami Dolphins news because, damn it, the 1972 Miami Dolphins want you to want 1972 Miami Dolphins news.
That clown car of attention whores finally got its just due and was honored at the White House on Tuesday for being a team that didn’t lose a game more than 40 years ago during the NFL’s era of lesser talent, simpler strategy, and a shorter schedule.
Three of the champion Dolphins chose not to attend the ceremony, though, because President Barack Obama apparently drone striked their pets or something. Screw the fact that most Americans never get to meet a President. These men have some hollow posturing to do.
“We’ve got some real moral compass issues in Washington,” Hall of Fame center Jim Langer said. “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.”
“Those people” presumably are the President and members of his staff. Because, as well all know, it is impossible to enjoy oneself in the same room as someone who has differing political views than you. Obama is famous for imposing universal health care on unwilling athletes that show up at his house, and an NFL vet and true patriot will be damned if he’ll take socialism over the league’s fantastic treatment of its retired players.
“I’ll just say my views are diametrically opposed to the President’s,” Manny Fernandez said. “Enough said. Let’s leave it at that. I hope everyone enjoys the trip who goes.”
And surely the undue awkwardness Fernandez is bringing on his teammates that will have to answer questions about his politics will help up the enjoyment factor.
“I want to be careful, because mom said if you have nothing good to say about someone, then don’t say anything,” Bob Kuechenberg, who doesn’t understand the word “implied,” said. “I don’t have anything good to say about someone. … 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.”
True that Kuechenberg’s opinion should be respected—in more of a Bill of Rights way than in any sort of academic respect. Every American can believe what he or she wishes. What do not automatically deserve respect, though, are a person’s actions, and the actions of those three Dolphins somehow make them more annoying than had they merely been part of the group that pops expensive un-American French champagne annually when the last NFL team loses a game.
“I don’t belong there, I’ll tell you that,” Kuechenberg added. “Without being critical, I can just tell you I don’t belong. It would be hypocritical of me to be there.”
Look, if you don’t want to meet the President so much that you would make yourself conspicuously absent and knowingly make headlines because of it, then lie. Say you have a previous engagement you’re promised to. You don’t even have to specify if asked what. Hell, a simple “no comment” would suffice if asked why you won’t be there. We’ll all assume it’s likely political, but we can’t ever actually pin it on you that you were being a massive self-important turd.
Some athletes in the past have declined to meet with the President without making a political statement—Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Manny Ramirez, and James Harrison are examples. They, too, were in the wrong, but at least they were not using a benign photo-op to push an agenda nobody asked to hear from them.
These Dolphins, though, are being faux patriotic in a sadly quixotic manner, just like others have been with this President. Recall that former Chicago Bear Dan Hampton didn’t exactly think Obama was the cream of the class and refused to meet with him, former Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas feared that a trip to the White House would lead to the government implanting a microchip in his brain, and former Baltimore Raven Matt Birk refused to attend because his pro-life stance that is probably not really pro-life (and no way his consideration of running for office for the Republican Party) clashed with Obama’s support for Planned Parenthood.
Where those athletes get it so wrong is not in their personal beliefs but in what Kuechenberg referred to as hypocrisy. Therein lies the problem with the of-late fashionable move to stick it to the sitting President by not showing up to shake his hand and give him a jersey with his name on it that he’ll never wear. Meeting with someone who shares a difference of opinion is not hypocritical; instead, it fosters polarization and ignorance. It sends a message that we should segregate ourselves from those we deem “wrong” rather than try to foster productive discussion and mutual understanding.
Each athlete that has said his political beliefs prevent him from being in the same room as the highest office in the land could have used the opportunity to request in person a different meeting with the President to discuss social policies (that likely haven’t hindered any of these wealthy players’ livelihoods anyway)—you know, be civil. But no—they have chosen to further divide and reflect a toxic culture we live in today that sees compromise and bipartisanship as weaknesses, logical discussion and examination of multifaceted issues as elitist and suspicious.
Aristotle said that “It is the mark of an educated man to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” But he was probably gay, and over 2,300 years later it’s probably partly his fault Greece is economically crumbling, right?
The three dissenting Dolphins have also chosen to make themselves bigger than the team and its accolades they so often shove in everyone’s faces. They fail to understand that part of the job as President is, along with being the executive branch of American government and all that entails, also being the most famous mall Santa in the country.
Many Presidents before this one and many into the apocalyptic freedomless future have had and will have completely harmless photo-ops with various civilians. It’s a saccharine part of the job with bad jokes and forced laughter. The affront to humor might make me refuse to attend a celebration at the White House, but my political disagreements with a democratically elected official won’t. And a current or former pro athlete should understand the whole photo op thing. How many pictures have Langer, Fernandez, and Kuechenberg taken with or signed autographs for ordinary people who disagree with their politics? Mingling briefly with people you’d rather not is part of being a celebrity.
And these Dolphins surely still profit financially from the ’72 brand, making appearances and whatnot. How might Langer feel if potential hosts were to refuse to let him appear for photos and autographs (and make money) because the hosts were staunch Obama supporters? Does the Obama boycott stop at the White House? Would Fernandez suggest one of his loved ones not attend their own college graduation ceremony where Obama was giving the commencement speech?
Plus, I understand that neither this President nor any other really gives a crap that a pro athlete or musician or actor isn’t a fan. Obama lost zero of the precious few minutes of sleep he’s allowed last night because of the pointed absence of three old men. And he’s very much not a Miami Dolphins fan, but I doubt he’d refuse free tickets to a game once he’s out of office because disagrees with their style of offense.
By no means am I demanding athletes pull a Britney Spears and clumsily bow down to all things Oval Office (I have my own issues with some of this President’s policies, trust me). Blind faith in politicians is as harmful as ignorant political opposition.
But people like Jim Langer, Manny Fernandez, and Bob Kuechenberg need to ask themselves what they’re really accomplishing here. What they feel is noble is in actuality quite petty. Besides riling up absolutely stubborn zealots on both the left and right, they’ve changed zero opinions of the President and made nobody more “aware” of anything other than they look incredibly obtuse and foolish.
And I really didn’t think the 1972 Miami Dolphins could do that more than before.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa before earning his degree from Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @TimBaffoe , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.