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When President Obama invited the 1985 Chicago Bears to the White House last month, Bears Hall of Famer Dan Hampton made headlines by rejecting the offer.
The team did not get the usual White House reception in 1986, a decision attributed to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, which occurred two days after the Bears beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Obama, a Bears fan, decided to host the team and give them the reception they deserved. Hampton, speaking to a Chicago radio station, said at the time that he wasn't interested:
It's bizarre, isn't it? And, you know, here's the other part of it. You know, life's about opportunities and seizing the moment. And you know what, I understand why we didn't go the week after the game -- or two weeks or three weeks -- because if indeed it was the Challenger that the White House and the regular administration was dealing with, I understand that. But there were other months -- March, April, May, June -- we could of went. And, obviously, it wasn't a pressing issue for the organization here. And so, it just basically, just, you know, rolled off our backs. And now 25 years later, uh, to say, 'Oh, yeah, let's put the band back together'? Nah, I'm not in.
He also told the station that he is "not a fan of the guy in the White House."
NBC Chicago sat down with Hampton this week, and he backed off the anti-Obama angle. He said he was disappointed that his family wasn't invited and that he "just didn't want to go."
"I had other plans, and I didn't care to go," Hampton said. "We should have went 26 years ago. For some reason we didn't. ... It's a different time, a different place."
He also mentioned that one or two other players also skipped the White House reception--but didn't get nearly as much attention for it.