But nothing new.
Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk passed on a chance to meet with Obama because of the president's support of Planned Parenthood. Golfer Tom Lehman was even more outspoken when rebuffing a president, calling Bill Clinton "a draft-dodging baby killer."
The routine is familiar. The president makes a few bad jokes. The championship-winning team presents the leader of the free world with a personalized jersey. Everyone smiles for the cameras.
That list includes Brady, who didn't attend a 2015 celebration because of what the quarterback insisted was a "family commitment" but others speculated was because of some unflattering comments a spokesman for President Obama made about the Deflategate scandal.
More teams would visit the White House in the years to come, but Mosher points to Richard Nixon as the first president who really pushed for a connection to athletes of all stripes, with some speculating that it was a way to make up for his failed football dreams. Most notably, he began the practice of placing congratulatory phone calls right to the locker room while teams were right in the midst of their championship celebrations.
Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas declined to join the 2011 Stanley Cup champions on their White House visit, writing on social media that the government "has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People."
"Actually," Mosher added, "I think it's quite refreshing."
Kraft is a friend of the 45th president, and quarterback Tom Brady drew plenty of scrutiny when one of Trump's "Make America Great Again" caps was spotted in his locker at the start of the contentious presidential campaign.
SNUBBING THE WHITE HOUSE
For some, a trip to the White House was no big deal.
Five teammates — defensive back Devin McCourty, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive end Chris Long, linebacker Dont'a Hightower and defensive tackle Alan Branch — quickly followed suit. Most pinned their decision on political differences with the Republican administration.
President Calvin Coolidge invited the hometown Senators for a visit after their dramatic seven-game victory in the 1924 World Series, which proved to be a prudent move. Washington may be first in war and first in peace, but it's still stuck on that one Series title.
Significant, to be sure.
"The balance of power in professional sports now rests more with the performers than the owners," said Stephen Mosher, a professor of sports management and media at Ithaca College. "Without a labor force, (Patriots owner) Robert Kraft has nothing but an empty stadium. He has to let his employees make these political statements if he wants to win. He has to. There's too many different political views held by players in the National Football League.
Reagan, who knew how to work the camera far better than Nixon, stepped up the game by using the White House as a backdrop for well-choreographed photo ops with champions from a wide range of sports. While these appearances were passed off as nothing more than a chance to dole out some well-deserved kudos while escaping the divisive issues of the day, the Gipper surely knew they had everything to do with politics.
No matter who's in the White House.
Now that the season is over, he's plunging into another fiery issue.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
"Basking in the reflective glory" of a championship team, as Mosher puts it, never hurts when election time rolls around. "They keep telling us over and over again that sports and politics don't mix," he said. "But that's simply not the case."
Others cited political differences with those in power in declining.
While presidents have been snubbed before,Cheap Authentic NFL Jerseys
, six players from the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots took it to another level by preemptively turning down an expected invitation from President Trump.
The quarterback's simple act of kneeling during the national anthem "is very different than what I've studied in the past," Mosher said. "He did it so politely, with so much respect. He wasn't calling attention to himself. The story only became a story when people noticed it. That stood in stark contrast to the ranting and raving that the political campaign was putting in front of the American public."
The Patriots were part of the political discourse even before they dramatically rallied from 25 points down to beat the Atlanta Falcons in the first Super Bowl to go to overtime.
Rest assured, they won't be the last to mix sports and politics.
Larry Bird shrugged off an invitation from Reagan after the Boston Celtics won an NBA title,<a href="http://www.wholes