For some, the decision is controversial.
For Deshaun Watson, it was a no-brainer.
After visiting the White House yesterday with his national championship-winning Clemson teammates, the Houston Texans first-round rookie quarterback said today, he didn’t think twice about going.
“It was on my bucket list,” Watson said. “The White House visit was awesome. I had a great time with my teammates. There weren’t any second thoughts.”
Championship teams visiting the White House is a tradition that dates back centuries. The first documented visit, according to ESPN.com, was Aug. 30, 1865, when president Andre Johnson welcomed the Brooklyn Atlantics and Washington Nationals amateur baseball clubs.
From the story:
“Ulysses S. Grant played host to the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, in 1869. The first World Series championship team feted at the White House is believed to be the 1924 Washington Senators, who visited Calvin Coolidge at the executive residence the following year.
John F. Kennedy was the first president to welcome the NBA champions, when the Boston Celtics visited in January 1963, and the Indiana University men’s basketball team is believed to be the first NCAA champion to visit the White House when it was hosted by Gerald Ford in April 1976.
It was Ronald Reagan, however, who made the practice of honoring championship teams at the White House a regular occurrence. Reagan had a cooler full of popcorn dumped on him by New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson, evoking the team’s famous Gatorade celebration, in February 1987. The following year, Reagan threw a pass to Washington wide receiver Ricky Sanders.
This past year, however, White House trips have come with significant media scrutiny, given the recent political climate, the level of discourse on social media and the number of players who publicly declined invitations in protest of president Donald Trump and some of his policies.
Most recently, 34 of a possible 68 members of the New England Patriots Super Bowl winning roster — which includes players on the active roster, practice squad and injured reserve — opted to not go. Not all skipped for political reasons. But Martellus Bennett, Devin McCourty, Chris Long, LaGarrette Blount, Dont’a Hightower and Alan Branch attributed their absence to the president.
There’s also question about whether the Golden State Warriors, who clinched an NBA Finals win over the Cleveland Cavaliers last night, will boycott as a team, per reports. The team issued a statement today saying, they’ve yet to make an official decision.
As for Watson, he said Tuesday was honored to be there.
“It was awesome,” Watson said. “We had a great time. It was good to see my old teammates and coaches, and being able to get honored at the White House is always huge. So, we had a great visit.”
Pretty cool, getting a personal shout out from the president, no?
“That was pretty cool,” Watson said of Trump singling him out for his performance in the win over Alabama. “Hopefully he watched it, but it was pretty cool.”
On the field, Watson said he’s happy with how he’s progressing.
“Everything’s been going pretty smooth,” Watson said. “I’ve been getting a lot of help from Tom (Savage) and Brandon (Weeden), just taking the reps that (head coach Bill O’Brien) is giving me, and just taking advantage of my opportunity when my time comes. “I’m getting better each and every day.”