Penguins Accept Donald Trump’s White House Invite Amid President-Athlete Rift

by NESN Staff

September 24, 2017

It turns out a sports team will visit the White House soon, after all.

The Pittsburgh Penguins released a statement Sunday saying they have accepted President Donald Trump’s invitation to the White House to celebrate their 2017 Stanley Cup victory.

“The Pittsburgh Penguins respect the institution of the Office of the President, and the long tradition of championship teams visiting the White House,” the statement read. “We attended White House ceremonies after previous championships — touring the historic building and visiting briefly with Presidents George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama — and have accepted an invitation to attend again this year.

“Any agreement or disagreement with a president’s politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways. However, we very much respect the rights of other individuals and groups to express themselves as they see fit.”

The timing of the Penguins’ statement is impossible to ignore: President Trump “disinvited” Stephen Curry from visiting the White House on Saturday after the Golden State Warriors guard mentioned he didn’t want to attend, and also attacked NFL players for protesting during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a rant Friday that he doubled down on Sunday in a pair of tweets.

The 2017 NCAA champion North Carolina men’s basketball team also announced Saturday it won’t visit the White House.

Trump’s comments and actions over the weekend have drawn widespread ire from professional athletes in NBA and NFL circles. But the Penguins aren’t adding to that criticism, instead deciding as a team to accept Trump’s invitation and head to the White House.

Thumbnail photos via Geoff Burke (L) and Rafael Suanes (R)/USA TODAY Sports Images

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