It’s only been a few days since the New England Patriots won their fifth Super Bowl with a remarkable comeback against the Atlanta Falcons, but already six New England players have announced they will not take part in the traditional White House visit with President Donald Trump.
Running back LaGarrrette Blount announced his decision Thursday on 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,” said Blount, who led the NFL in rushing touchdowns in 2016.
Defensive end Chris Long announced on Twitter that he would not attend either. Long was responding to New York Daily News sports reporter Chuck Modi, who called on Long to skip the event in an open letter.
Defensive lineman Alan Branch said during a radio interview on Sirius XM that he would spend time with his family instead.
Running back James White, on the same station, said he was undecided about attending.
No date has been set for the visit. The Patriots are the first major American sports team to win a championship since Trump won the election and was inaugurated. New England rallied from 25-point deficit in the Super Bowl, scoring the game’s final 31 points, a comeback that some Trump supporters found similar to his unlikely win in November.
Tight end Martellus Bennett and defensive back Devin McCourty previously announced they would not attend because of political reasons.
McCourty told Time that, “I don’t feel accepted in the White House. With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices I believe certain poeple might feel accepted there while others won’t.”
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower said he won’t go because he’s already been there as a member of college football national champion Alabama.
Trump is friends with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and star quarterback Tom Brady. Brady did not attend the White House celebration two years ago with President Barack Obama, perhaps because he was upset about comments about Deflategate. The Patriots said at the time that Brady had a “family commitment.”
A number of athletes have skipped White House visits in the past, for political reasons or personal reasons.