The New England Patriots already celebrated their Super Bowl LI victory with a parade in Boston on February 7, but there is still one more part of the celebrating to go: a trip to the White House. But with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, at least six Patriots players have all said that they will not attend.
While on The Today Show, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said his players have the right to chose not to go to the White House as Americans. “This is America. We’re all free to do whatever’s best for us and we’re just privileged to be in a position of going,” he said.
The Patriots last visited the White House in 2015, after winning Super Bowl XLIX. That trip was politicized as well, since quarterback Tom Brady missed that ceremony. He cited a “prior family commitment,” but he made sure to visit the White House during the three times the Patriots won the Super Bowl during President George W. Bush’s administration.
While Brady said he couldn’t see Obama because of his family, most of the Patriots who won’t see Trump have all made their reasons quite clear. They don’t agree with Trump’s policies.
Here’s a look at the six Patriots who have already said they won’t go. This post will be updated as more Patriots comment. The Patriots’ visit to the White House hasn’t been scheduled yet.
1. Chris Long
New York Daily News columnist Chuck Maodiano wrote an open letter to Chris Long, asking him to skip the Trump White House meeting. Maodiano noted that Long was one of the only white NFL players to join in Colin Kaepernick’s National Anthem protest during the season.
Long later tweeted that he planned on skipping meeting Trump, even before Maodiano’s column.
2. LeGarrette Blount
While on The Rich Eisen Show, running back LeGarrette Blount said he won’t meet Trump. “I don’t feel welcome in that house. I’ll leave it at that,” Blount said.
3. Martellus Bennett
Before the Patriots won the Super Bowl, tight end Martellus Bennett said he would not visit Trump if the team won. Bennett previously made it clear that he was disappointed that Trump became the next president by writing an open letter to his daughter, inspiring her to try her best to succeed in a world with Trump as president.
“I’ve got to win the Super Bowl first, but most likely no. Cause I don’t – that’s not – I don’t support the guy that’s in the house,” Bennett said before the Super Bowl.
After the Patriots won, he again said he won’t go and doesn’t care what Patriots owner Robert Kraft thinks about his decision.
4. Devin McCourty
“I’m not going to the White House,” McCourty told the magazine. “Basic reason for me is I don’t feel accepted in the White House. With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won’t.”
5. Dont’a Hightower
Dont’a Hightower, whose strip-sack of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan helped pave the way for the Patriots’ incredible comeback, told ESPN that he doesn’t want to go. He visited in 2015, after winning Super Bowl XLIX. Hightower also won the BCS national champion twice with Alabama.
6. Alan Branch
Alan Branch cited his family as the reason for missing the White House ceremony in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio.
7. James White (Maybe)
James White, who Tom Brady called the real MVP of Super Bowl LI, is debating skipping the trip.
“I’ll wait ’til the time comes and decide then,” White told the Sporting News.