Traditionally, a grand custom after winning the Super Bowl is to pay a visit to the White House to be honored by the President of the United States. This year, the New England Patriots won a historical game and are to attend an honorary visit to headquarters of President Donald Trump, yet some were not willing to oblige. Defensive back Devin McCourty and tight end Martellus Bennett were the first to protest the trip to Washington, and four more players joined in soon after (Chris Long, LeGarrette Blount, Alan Branch, and Dont’a Hightower). Though McCourty and Bennett stated that they would not be in attendance due to political differences between the players and Trump, others simply decided family time would be more important to them, such as Branch. Others gave bold statements as to why they would not take part in the tradition, such as Blount telling The Rich Eisen Show, “I will NOT be going to the White House. I don’t feel welcome in that house. I’ll leave it at that.” Other teammates are being urged to skip the trip in protest as well, the largest supporters of the protest actually being from the fans. Fans have urged players such as Gronkowski and White to skip the visit as well. Perhaps one of the most important players on the team, Tom Brady, has been questioned as to whether or not he will make an appearance as Brady skipped the visit during the Patriots win under the Obama administration due to “family reasons”.
The news of part of the team skipping the event is a bit shocking as Trump happens to have close relations with some of the players and the team’s leaders. Throughout the President’s’ campaign, both Brady and Bill Belichick showed their support of his administration. Brady was seen with a “Make America Great Again” baseball hat in the locker room during the campaign phase and Belichick reportedly sent a letter to President Trump to congratulate him once in office. Even Robert Kraft has been labelled as an old friend of Trump.
Though only few of the players have decided to not attend the White House after Super Bowl 51, there is a likely chance that more will decline the offer.