Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre drew attention in late July when he played golf with President Donald Trump at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The pair drew criticism for the outing due to it occurring amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Favre made it clear that he doesn't care about the comments.
Speaking with USA Today, Favre explained why he headed to the golf course in New Jersey. He talked about how this wasn't tied to a particular affinity for Trump or any previous president. He just had immense respect for the office. Favre made it clear that he would have accepted an invitation to golf from multiple residents of the Oval Office.
"I would have played golf with any president because I respect the office of the United States. It's an honor," Favre told the outlet in a phone interview. "If Barack Obama asked to golf with me, I would have taken the invitation."
Many fellow athletes have responded to comments on social media after playing a round of golf with the president. Pro Brooks Koepka said that he "doesn't care about your political beliefs" and that it's an honor the president wanted to play with him. Koepka has met four of the five living presidents and also spent time with Barack Obama at the Floridian Golf Club.
"I respect the office, I don't care who it is," Koepka said to GQ. "Still probably the most powerful man in the entire world. It's a respect thing. That's what I don't understand about the teams that don't go to the White House. It's still ... like, if I see an older man, it's 'Yes, sir' or 'mister.' It wouldn't be like, Hey, Jack, what's up? It's like, 'Hey, Mr. Nicklaus, how are you?' Out of respect. Doesn't matter who it is."
While both Favre and Koepka have made it clear that they would golf with anyone that occupies the Oval Office, one professional golfer took a different approach. Rory McIlroy explained that he turned down multiple invitations from Trump and that he would not golf with him anymore. The primary reason he cited was that he didn't agree with how Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic.
"We're in the midst of something that's pretty serious right now and the fact that he's trying to politicize it and make it a campaign rally and say we're administering the most tests in the world like it is a contest — there's something that just is terrible," McIlroy said. "It's not the way a leader should act. There's a sort of diplomacy that you need to have, and I don't think he's showing that — especially in these times."