President Donald Trump welcomed members of the New England Patriots to the White House on Wednesday, noting that it was a distinct honor to celebrate the team's Super Bowl victory "with a very good friend". Well, half of the Patriots did, anyway.
"Along with the parade and ring ceremony, the opportunity and privilege to come to the White House is one of the great things about winning the Super Bowl, so we're very privileged to be here", the coach said. To some players, absences were notably linked to politics. Neither did Tom Brady, who cited a personal reason, just like when he missed the trip two years ago during President Barack Obama's term.
FILE - In this February 6, 2017, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady walks off with his MVP trophy during a news conference after the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game in Houston. "No team has been this good for this long", the president said. This time, however, the media focused a lot of attention on the players who refused to attend due to their dislike of President Trump. He said almost 50 players attended the event in 2015 when Obama hosted. The 2015 shot shows far more people standing behind Obama on the White House stage and flanking staircases.
Gronk then asked Spicey "You sure?" before leaving the room. Quarterback Tom Brady - long said to be Trump's favorite player - skipped out citing "family matters", leading Trump to snub him in his speech.
Some players reportedly declined to attend the White House ceremony because they didn't want to be seen with Trump.
"Where's Danny? Where's Danny?"
Kraft said he was delighted to be honored by Trump for a remarkable comeback victory that he said echoed the president's own longshot campaign "against 16 career politicians facing odds nearly as long as we faced in the fourth quarter". Safety Devin McCourty and running back LeGarrette Blount both said they would decline because they did not feel welcome at the White House.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft stands next to President Trump aboard Air Force One in Palm Beach, Fla., on March 19, 2017.
"Every time we've had the privilege of going to the White House, a dozen of our players don't go", Kraft told the "Today" show. "This is the first time it's gotten any media attention". Saying you couldn't do it; the game was over. He later added: "This is America, we're all free to do whatever's best for us".