Jason Collins’ Story About The Time He Made An Awkward Joke To Obama
Jason Collins wrote the single most interesting, compelling, introspective entry in The Players' Tribune to date. No accusing the media of doing something they never did. No humorless attacks on satire. No boring stories about your summer. Just one man's struggle to come to terms with the cards he was dealt.
Over the course of the last year or so, we've gotten to know Jason Collins' personality as surprisingly a jovial one -- at least for such a tortured individual. In fact, he prides himself on being awkward. He's a bit of a dork. In most ways, he's about as far from the graceful, vain, theatrical stereotypes we've come to heap on gay men. One particular story he tells in his piece really highlights just how epically goofy this dude is.
[The Players Tribune] Then, in January, I was invited to Washington D.C. by the White House for the State of the Union address. I had the pleasure to join the First Lady in her viewing box during the speech. Afterward, there’s something called the receiving line, where all the invited guests of the First Lady wait in line to greet the President and take a picture with him. Usually this process is rather quick as you shake hands, say a few words, and move along for the next person. At least that’s how it works with normal people. Unfortunately, as my friends love to point out to me, I am the Black Larry David.
Awkwardness follows me.
So President Obama gets to me and without missing a beat he says, “Hey Jason, nice to see you. Have you been staying in shape?”
“Yes, Mr. President. I just ran five miles yesterday,” I said. “I’m ready.”
“That’s good,” he said, “Because you know, after the All-Star break is when all the free agents get picked up, so stay in shape.”
At this point, I should have smiled and said, “Thank you, Mr. President, I will.”
I did not do that.
“Oh yeah, Mr. President,” I said. “I’d show you my six pack, but I don’t think the Secret Service or your wife would want me to take my shirt off right now.”
I have rarely seen the President at a loss for words. He is always smooth. This time, it took him a second.
“Uh, well yeah, that’s a good idea,” he said. “You should probably keep your shirt on.”
He grinned, shook my hand and turned to the next person.
Good job, Jason. Way to be the first and only openly gay professional athlete in America and immediately tell the f-ing President you'll take your shirt off and show him your abs. I'd hate to have this ultimately meaningless bit of levity be all that you take away from Collins' 3,700 word retirement letter, so make sure you check it out in its entirety at some point in your life. There's been nothing quite like it in sports history.
Photo via Getty
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