Standing Pat: The Patriots Skipping the Trump White House Visit


The iconic moment during the 1968 Mexico Olympics when U.S. sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists in the Black power salute, wearing only black socks on their feet to symbolize black poverty. AP photo.

With some declaring, "We don't feel welcome in that house," 34 New England Patriots skipped Wednesday's annual visit of the Super Bowl champions to the White House, which happens to be inhabited this year by a guy who, as one player explains in a bruisingly honest video, "I wouldn’t want to meet with or talk to.” Despite Trump's identification with the Patriots - he's supposedly friends with owner Bob Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady - only about half the team, almost 70% African-American, turned up, with several being up-front and vocal about boycotting the event for political reasons. Bizarrely, the visit came the same day that former Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell, marking the sordid end of a long steep fall from grace.

Other than Brady - who at the last minute announced he wasn't going due to "personal family matters" - several of the no-shows said they were protesting Dumpster's misogyny, racism, lying, groping, meanness and all-round immorality - about which, said Chris Long, "All humans who live in America should be concerned." Long has passionately defended his stance on moral grounds, as have several others - Martellus Bennett, Alan Branch, Dont’a Hightower, LeGarrette Bount, and Devin McCourty. Tight end Bennett - also a children's book author, philanthropist and fan of fruits and vegetables - has been particularly outspoken, including on his Twitter feed. "Accept others for who they are, think for yourself, help others in need," Bennett wrote in an open letter to his young daughter after the election, encouraging her and other kids to stand up. "The world will one day be all of yours...Training starts now."

More than half of the team is expected to make the trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — 34 of the 63 players (active roster and practice squad), to be exact, ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported during a “SportsCenter” appearance Wednesday morning. According to Reiss, roughly 50 players visited the White House after the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX two years ago. Their contingent hasn’t always been that strong, however, as only about 30 players attended after Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005. We already know who seven of this year’s no-shows will be. Quarterback Tom Brady, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Devin McCourty, defensive tackle Alan Branch, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive end Chris Long and tight end Martellus Bennett all have said they will not attend the first championship celebration of Donald Trump’s presidential tenure. Brady’s announcement came just hours before the ceremony, with the Super Bowl MVP saying Wednesday morning he needed to attend to a “personal family matter.”

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