The growing list of New England Patriots players breaking tradition and declining to attend the White House visit after their Super Bowl win has expanded to six players.
The New England Patriots won their fifth Super Bowl in a historic defeat over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. So far, players who will not attend the visit include defensive end Chris Long, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive tackle Alan Branch, defensive back Devin McCourty, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and tight end Martellus Bennett.
Bennett, who was the first to announce earlier this week that he would not be shaking hands with President Donald Trump said, “It is what it is. People know how I feel about it. Just follow me on Twitter.”
“I don’t support the guy that’s in the house,” Bennett also said in a pre-Super Bowl interview.
McCourty told Time, "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.”
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However, The Washington Post reports, not all of the players have outright attributed their reason for not attending as anti-Trump. Hightower claims he’s “been there, done that,” as he’s visited the White House twice as a member of Alabama’s BCS title-winning teams.
Chris Long, the only White player to say he won’t attend, responded to a NY Daily News columnist who said he should “stand up to Trump.”
With 10 percent of the team publicly announcing they won’t attend the visit scheduled for later this year, there’s potential for things to stir up as reports state that team owner Robert Kraft is a Trump supporter and even attended a dinner in Washington for him before the inauguration.
“Good for the dissenting players for refusing to play coy about why they won’t go… Instead, they chose to exercise their rights. Nothing more American than that," a Boston Globe columnist wrote.