Seating staffers on the lawn, instead of posing them on the stairs, made the turnout discrepancy appear larger than it was.
New England Patriots player Alan Branch said he chose not to visit the White House Wednesday because of President Donald Trump's past sexist remarks that were caught on an Access Hollywood video.
The New England Patriots visited the White House on Wednesday.
Did Robert Kraft hijack the Patriots' Twitter account?
The whole situation certainly provokes the rising voices that say in ever louder tones that we need dump the politics, to stick to sports, and just play ball.
The Times' article on the Patriots' visit, which the newspaper linked to in its tweet, quotes a Patriots spokesman who claims the number of team members present for each trip was "roughly the same".
"If you follow Donald Trump on Twitter, then you probably know that one of his favorite things to do on the social media site is to call out the New York Times for their "#FakeNews".
"At a time when our nation and the world was watching the peaceful transition of power and, as the president said, the transition and the balance of power from Washington to the citizens of the United States, some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting", White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on the day after Trump's inauguration.
Some players reportedly declined to attend the White House ceremony because they didn't want to be seen with Trump.
Though numerous Super Bowl champions also skipped the White House visit in past years (including Brady, who was not in attendance in 2015), the Patriots' earlier connections to Trump meant particular scrutiny this time around.
"I don't understand still to this day, especially with how many women went out there and voted for him", he said. He said that more than 45 players attended the ceremonies in 2002, after the franchise's first Super Bowl, and that in 2015, when Barack Obama was president, the number of players approached 50. It's the players who are missing, and the reason they stayed home.
Kraft in February complained about media attention to players' decisions to skip this year's celebration, saying it was the first time people cared.
"Basic reason for me is, I don't feel accepted in the White House", McCourty told Time magazine. "We had people today who were attending funerals, who were sick - it wasn't political; it's just life".