Super Bowl Champions New England Patriots prepare to visit White House as some players plan to boycott
The New England Patriots are set to visit President Donald Trump at the White House on Wednesday -- but not all players will be in attendance.
The Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons to win Super Bowl LI in early February, and since the stunning comeback victory, several players have announced plans to skip the White House visit.
Tight end Martellus Bennett hinted at plans to pass on the opportunity to meet President Trump before the big game even kicked off. Ten days after Trump took office and just five days before the Super Bowl, Bennett told members of the media that he would "most likely not" go to the White House. The first-year Patriot confirmed this notion following the Patriots win.
Patriots safety Devin McCourty also revealed plans to skip the Washington D.C. trip after the Super Bowl.
"I'm not going to the White House," McCourty wrote in a text message to TIME. "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."
At least six 2017 Super Bowl champions have expressed their intentions to pass on the White House opportunity -- with some expressing their displeasure with some of the president's stances.
While players this season have been making headlines for opting out of the presidential visit -- it is not unprecedented. In 2015, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady did not attend the team's White House visit with then-President Obama, citing a "family commitment" and contends "it never was a political thing" for him personally.
"It really is a great experience," Brady said during an interview with PFT Live. "Putting politics aside, it never was a political thing. At least, it never was to me. It meant you won a championship and you got to experience something cool with your team, with your teammates. Everyone has their own choice. It's an offseason. These days are valuable for everybody."
The president's ties with Brady, as well as Patriots owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, were a major talking point during the 2016 NFL season, as it paralleled the presidential election. Brady made headlines when a Make America Great Again hat was spotted in his locker, however, he has steered clear of political talk with reporters.