President Donald Trump welcomed the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots to the White House Wednesday, along with his longtime friend and Patriots owner, Robert Kraft. Well, half of the Patriots did, anyway.
Most of the players for the New England Patriots were at the White House Wednesay to take a victory lap after their Super Bowl win over the Atlanta Falcons. The highlight of the visit was not of who attended but rather who didn't. While politics certainly played a roll for some, others may have had a been-there-done-that attitude.
On a day reserved for celebration, the Patriots' official account picked an odd fight with the New York Times over this year's turnout at the post-Super Bowl White House ceremony. The number of players not attending because of the president, and vocally doing so, is unprecedented.
On Wednesday, however, Trump was early.
These photos lack context.
"I said, 'Coach do you mind if I read the letter tonight to a stadium full of people in an important state.' He said, 'You know what I'd rather not have you do that". "Never before have we had players being asked, 'Are you going to the White House?'". The President also heaped on praise on coach Bill Belichick, who supported his candidacy.
Superstar quarterback Tom Brady, a noted Trump supporter, also missed the event, but he reportedly pulled out on Wednesday morning due to "personal family matters".
Brady was a late absentee from the visit. That's what fans are speculating after Trump didn't even MENTION Tom's name in his speech to the team.
"Where's Danny? Where's Danny?"
"He's built a culture dedicated to winning", Trump said.
A handful of other Patriots players had already opted out of the trip, some citing political differences with Trump.
Several players this year alluded to U.S. politics as motivation for not attending: "I just don't feel welcome in that house", running back LeGarrette Blount reportedly told the Rich Eisen radio show.
Still, one would think that Brady would give a little bit more notice if he planned on being with his family instead of partying at the White House. "This is the first time it's gotten any media attention".
Several members of the team will not attend the ceremony because of the man whose hand they would be shaking. But this is America. He later added: "This is America, we're all free to do whatever's best for us".
Matt Ferner contributed reporting.