Donald Trump welcomed the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots to the White House Wednesday afternoon, but more than 30 players, including star quarterback Tom Brady, were not in attendance.
Brady said he was dealing with a “personal family matter” the White House said Wednesday and did not travel to Washington, D.C., to attend the ceremony.
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Several members of the team, including high-profile players like defensive end Chris Long and running back LeGarrette Blount pledged to boycott the trip as a political statement against the Trump administration.
Here is a list of players not present at the White House: Tom Brady, Devin McCourtney, Martellus Bennett, La Garrette Blount, Dont’a Hightower, Chris Long, Brandon Bolden, Dion Lewis, James White, Danny Amendola, Michael Floyd, Shaq Mason, LaAdrian Waddle, Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Vincent Valentine, Barkevious Mingo, Malcom Butler, Patrick Chung, Logan Ryan, Cyrus Jones, Ryan Allen, Jonathan Freeny, Tre’ Jackson, Greg Scruggs, Chris Barker, Trevor Bates, Jamil Douglas, Chase Farris, Tyler Gaffney, Woodrow Hamilton, Devin Lucien and DeAndrew White.
After winning the Super Bowl in February, several Patriots players suggested they wouldn’t attend the annual visit of the winning team to the White House for multiple different reasons.
In a February interview with Fox Sports radio, Blount claimed “I just don’t feel welcome in that house. I’m just going to leave it at that.”
McCourty, on the other hand, was more direct, telling Time magazine in February that the “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.”
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The White House visit is a tradition for Super Bowl winning teams, but this isn’t the first time players have skipped the visit or boycotted for political reasons. In 2013, Ravens’ lineman Will Brinson skipped the visit because he disagreed with former president Barack Obama’s stance on abortion.
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And Brady, after winning Superbowl 49 in 2014, didn’t attend citing previous commitments.
Players who have been vocal about their choice to steer clear of the White House on Wednesday have received mixed reactions for their decision, such as Chris Long, who’s spent much of his time since the Super Bowl dodging comments about his choice on social media.
Other players, such as Martellus Bennett, declined to specifically cite Donald Trump in their reasoning, but Bennett joked during the campaign that he’d move to outer space if Donald Trump was elected.
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Bennett, as well as McCourty, made headlines last fall for raising their fists during the national anthem before a game. This came at a time when multiple athletes had taken similar actions to protest racial oppression in the United States.
To sum up their reasoning, several of the Patriots participated in a short video to explain why they felt it necessary to miss the team’s visit to the White House. The video included clips from Patriots fans commending them on their decision.
The Patriots’ White House visit came just hours after the news from Massachusetts officials that former tight end Aaron Hernandez had hanged himself in his prison cell.
Hernandez, who played for the Patriots from 2010 to 2012, was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction in 2013 and last Friday the 27-year-old was acquitted of a double murder.
— With files from the Associated Press