Nearly half the team didn’t show up
On August 30, 1865, Andrew Johnson, the first president to be impeached, made a different first: When he hosted the Brooklyn Atlantics and Washington Nationals amateur baseball clubs at the White House, he originated the custom of sports teams visiting the president. Today, President Donald Trump (insert impeachment joke here) continued the tradition by hosting the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. But the festivities had some notable absences.
Tom Brady cryptically announced this morning that he would skip for “family reasons,” but the other Pats not attending have been more than open about why they didn’t want to head to Trump’s White House for a photo op. Running back LeGarrette Blount said on a radio show that “I just don’t feel welcome in that house.” Tight end Martellus Bennett, who announced immediately after the Pats beat the Falcons that he would not visit Trump, will be in Los Angeles to appear on Chelsea Handler’s talk show instead. And Alan Branch told The Boston Globe he wouldn’t go because he was horrified by the Trump Access Hollywood tape, where he joked about sexual assault.
A couple of Patriots, Devin McCourty and Chris Long, recently filmed a video to further explain why they would protest the tradition of visiting the president. In the video, the players, along with lifelong Pats fans, discuss what the team means to them, the emotions of the Super Bowl comeback win, and about not supporting Trump.
“Right away I knew I wasn’t going, because it was something I had thought about before we had even won the game,” McCourty says in the video. “For me it was simple, I don’t want to exclude other people.”
Long, who gained attention earlier this season when he became a vocal supporter of Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest, said, “My son grows up, and I believe the legacy of our president is going to be what it is, I didn’t want him to say, ‘Hey, dad, why did you go when you knew the right thing was to not go?’”
While seven Patriots announced ahead of time that they would not visit, nearly half the team didn’t make the trip to D.C. One player who did attend was loveable lummox Rob Gronkowski, who wandered into Sean Spicer’s press briefing earlier today to ask if he could help. Spicer should have taken him up on the offer.