Similarly, winners of NASCAR races are invited to drive past 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and honk their horns.
There's no word on whether or not President Obama stayed up fretting over the absence of erstwhile Ravens center Matt Birk, who retired after the past season. Birk complained that he couldn't bring himself to attend, because, "I would say this -- I would say that I have great respect for the office of the presidency, but about five or six weeks ago, our president made a comment in a speech and he said, 'God bless Planned Parenthood."
A Harvard graduate(!), Birk didn't seem to learn much at that fine institution. One thing that paying attention in college would have taught him would be to verify things before parroting the wrong thing that you heard all wrong. Because, here is what the president said, at a Planned Parenthood meeting:
“Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you. God bless America."
That's a little bit different. Of course he thanked Planned Parenthood. He was there speaking to their membership, not promoting their cause.
Birk has every right to protest as he sees fit, and from the looks of things, no one on the team was devastated by his absence. He is active in the anti-abortion movement, and he is entitled to that action, but here is where it gets interesting to me.
Children will say, "I'm not playing with Johnny because he likes the Jets" or something childish like that. As adults, we tend not to avoid contact with other adults simply because we differ in philosophy with them.
Birk had a lot to say last year when the Maryland Legislature was considering (and passing) a law making same-sex marriage legal here in the Free State. Notice that he managed to keep showing up every day, practicing and playing alongside Brendon Ayanbadejo, a linebacker who took an active stance in favor of gay marriage.
So. Matt Birk, as long as people are paying you millions of dollars to play a game, you can associate with people with whom you disagree, but when the chance comes to shake the hand of the president of the United States and represent your former team and former home town, you demur, choosing to make some point?
Enjoy your retirement. Try to grow up a little.