Surprise Surprise, another Packers event that involves Super Bowl XLV and another controversy. Whether it’s scheduling a picture, the ring ceremony or the trip to the White House, the Packers PR department find themselves unable to please everyone.
When football came back, I believed that a trip to the White House would be difficult. I was against the idea of a mid-season trip, as I’d prefer my team to be focused on the season and games at hand and not looking backwards. I also thought it would be unfair to any players who were on the championship team but not on the current roster. Little did I know this would be the issue.
The Packers announced today that they have accepted the invitation to the White House for August 12th and only current members of the team are invited. That means no Nick Barnett, no Cullen Jenkins and no to a handful of others who helped this team bring the Lombardi Trophy home.
Its logistics, really. The Packers are scheduling this trip around their timeline, not other teams’. Do they call up all the other players, who are spread out on other teams or still at home waiting for a call and work around numerous schedules? Do they invite the former players but not include the rookies or un-drafted free agents who have recently signed? Do those new guys make the trip but sit in the hotel while the other ones go off to meet the President?
It still sat wrong with me though, that Brandon Jackson and others who were crucial to my favorite team winning the Super Bowl won’t get to finish the “White House on 3” dream. I tried to remember back to the last Packers White House visit. All I could remember from it was that McMahon wore his Bears jersey and that Chewy wouldn’t shake Clinton’s hand. For some reason I felt confident that besides those two issues, the last White House visit went off without a hitch. I was, however, 14 at the time and not fully trusting my memory, so I did a little digging.
It doesn’t happen often, but I was wrong. Apparently the May 1997 trip was eerily similar. Andre Rison, Chris Jacke and Super Bowl MVP, Desmond Howard were not invited to meet Clinton. An article from The Wisconsin State Journal says that Jacke found out that he wasn’t invited when he called the Packers to arrange travel plans and “was told he wasn’t welcome.” At that time Jacke was an unrestricted free agent and had yet to sign with a different team.
But here’s where the stories veer off the same path. Seeing as that off season was normal and free of lock out drama, the White House visit wasn’t the last team organized celebration and after fan criticism of the move, The Packers invited the entire team, including Howard who was signed with the Raiders at the time, to the ring ceremony. Bob Harlan said, “The fans voiced their displeasure with our previous decision, and we listened.”
Honestly, after an offseason where all we really had was drama, I don’t care who goes and who doesn’t go to the White House. Sure, I would like everyone who earned the victory to get to celebrate, but we’re back in football mode, its time to defend. I’d like to think that if this visit had happened in May that the entire roster would have been invited; Although, Josh Bell’s absence from the ring ceremony might prove me wrong in my hope, but I will keep it anyways.
So, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no way to do this visit without stepping on someone’s toes and I’m not going to worry about it. Instead I’m going to worry about ILB depth. That seems a tad more pressing right now.