It's no joke. It's the ultimate acknowledgment in the sports world - a championship trip to the White House.
Sure, it's special when one of the most powerful people on the planet - the President of the United States - invites an American title team onto the White House Lawn for speeches, handshakes and even an occasional selfie that comes with a nice bonus from a sponsor, right David Ortiz?
For most who receive the opportunity, it's the chance of a lifetime to meet the President. It's always an honor, and the Patriots have the opportunity this Thursday when they visit Washington, DC and President Barack Obama will smile and get a Pats' jersey with a big number "1" on it; maybe even Bill Belichick will smile, players and coaches will laugh all the way through the jersey presentation ceremony and yet, there will also be an elephant on the lawn, too.
Not in the physical sense, even though some pretty big guys will be there. No, this elephant is represented by erstwhile Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis, who has since defected south to play for the New York J-E-T-S, signing a five-year, $70 million free agent deal after spurning New England's off-season overtures to return.
Multiple sources have reported Revis is planning on attending the ceremony with his now former teammates, even though he is no longer a member of the team. Now of course, he was a member of the Super Bowl-winning squad last season, and a very important one at that - but does that mean he's entitled to the same spoils and celebrations that come along for the post-season ride?
Yes. Regardless of his southerly sprint to New York, or his Instagram controversy - where Revis says his account was hacked in a profane tirade against the Patriots, Belichick and Tom Brady - he earned the right to tag along. The two teams also remain engaged in a "he said, she said" quarrel on potential tampering charges over his departure and signing. In this instance, his being in Washington will only serve as a point of controversy to give us all something to talk about.
Maybe that's actually a good thing, because these ceremonies tend to be a bit tedious at times. You've seen one, you've seen them all. He could do the classy thing and say "I've moved along. I'm a Jet now," but he won't. No, he'll probably be there, the cameras will be flashing and rolling, smiles will abound and maybe even the President will tell a joke or two on the subject of Revis' presence.
What Mr. Obama should point out, however, is that the ultimate joke might actually be on Revis.
Dont'a fights the good fight
Check out some of our favorite photos of Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower from the 2014 Championship season.
Not to compare and contrast or anything...but let's also consider the current plight of Patriots' linebacker Dont'a Hightower. There's pressure to return to active status as soon as possible, with the veteran holes left behind from the departure of Revis and Vince Wilfork, among others. Hightower is currently rehabilitating his right shoulder following surgery to repair a torn labrum. His timetable for a return to the field is uncertain, but he told the Boston Herald last week he does hope to be back ready to roll for the regular season.
"Right now, I'm doing well," Hightower told the Herald. "The doc likes everything he's seen."
Here's what I like about what I've seen from Hightower - at the very least, he's improved his skill set over his three seasons. Good signal caller for the defense, solid in the middle, improving in his limited coverage chances. At the most, he's proving to be tough, if not durable...since he played for the final six weeks or so of the season with that shoulder injury. It means - he basically played linebacker with one arm, and made the Super Bowl saving tackle of Marshawn Lynch with little more than the one good wing he had.
I'll take a torn shoulder any day to get a Super Bowl ring...
Best of all, he's also said he'd do it all over again. He's a gamer, maybe even in the mold of those who played (and departed) before him. Trade a labrum for a little bling?
"I'll take a torn shoulder any day to get a Super Bowl ring...I knew my teammates needed me. I know it's so cliché, but everybody out there was hurtin'."
Here's a guy who has taken his licks, both literally and figuratively from some in the media, and still keeps dishing it out.
"I went through a lot in my first few seasons from guys in the media, and fans thinking I was a wasted pick, or a bust," Hightower told the Herald. "I went through a hard time. A lot of guys do. Some guys give up. Some guys keep fighting."
Safe to say, High is one of those fighters.
Some new AFC East hate?
He's become must-see TV, and in upstate New York, Bills' coach Rex Ryan is doing more than just bringing in new season-ticket holders. He's also creating some angst where little seemed to exist previously. That's good for business, and good for future storylines.
What has he done since moving north from New York City? Well, for starters, he's updated the tattoo of his wife wearing nothing but a number "6" on his right arm, changing the color of the jersey from Jets' green to Bills' blue. He's updated the offense through the additions of LeSean McCoy and Percy Harvin, yet it remains to be seen if they can produce like former Bills' greats Thurman Thomas or Andre Reed. But his moves have grabbed plenty of attention off the shores of Lake Erie. The Bills could be serious players.
And apparently, Ryan is bringing some of the same bluster he boasted during his time as the HC of the NYJ. His former tight end in New York, Jace Amaro, told Sirius XM NFL Radio a couple of weeks ago that Ryan's Jets last season "lacked accountability." You just knew Rex couldn't help himself with his quick quip of a response to that statement.
"He's full of (bleep), and I'll remind him of that when we play him," Ryan told Sports Illustrated's MMQB. "Look, we weren't perfect, and I never said we were going to be perfect. But that's a (bleeping) b.s. comment...we'll see how happy he is when I play against him."
Short of seeing Ryan himself suit up against his former team next season, the formerly ho-hum home-and-home in the Meadowlands and Orchard Park just became a bit more watchable, didn't it?
*John Rooke is an author and award-winning broadcaster, and has been the Patriots' stadium voice for 22 years. Currently serving in several media capacities - which include hosting "Patriots Playbook" on Patriots.com Radio - Rooke has broadcast college football and basketball for the past 26 years and is a member of the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame. *
Follow him on Twitter - @JRbroadcaster