WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 19: New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick (L) and team owner Robert Kraft (R) present a football helmet to U.S. President Donald Trump during a celebration of the team's Super Bowl victory on the South Lawn at the White House April 19, 2017 in Washington, DC. It was the team's fifth Super Bowl victory since 1960. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Tom Brady Misses White House Visit Due To ‘Family Matters,’ Six Other Patriots Skipping Trip
Tom Brady, Six Other Patriots Skip White House Visit
Brady, 39, cited “personal family matters” as his reason for missing the event.
“I am so happy and excited that our team is being honored at the White House today,” the quarterback said in a statement the Patriots released to CNN. “Our team has accomplished something very special that we are all proud of and will be for years to come. Thank you to the President for hosting this honorary celebration and for supporting our team for as long as I can remember. In light of some recent developments, I am unable to attend today’s ceremony, as I am attending to some personal family matters. Hopefully, if we accomplish the goal of winning a championship in the future years, we will back on the South Lawn again soon. Have a great day!”
The six other Patriots skipping the visit are running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive end Chris Long, defensive tackle Alan Branch, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, tight end Martellus Bennett and safety Devin McCourty.
Brady is notorious for being a supporter and friend of President Donald J. Trump, so the quarterback’s decision to miss the trip to Washington, D.C. comes as a surprise. Nevertheless, family comes first, so Brady’s decision for skipping the event sounds more than reasonable.
Trump and Brady have reportedly played golf together on several occasions. At a campaign rally in New Hampshire just days before the election in November, Trump called Brady a “friend” and claimed the quarterback had voted for him early. Brady’s wife Gisele Bundchen later denied this, saying neither her nor her husband were Trump supporters.
The quarterback, who was spotted to be in possession of a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker room early in the election season in a nod to Trump’s campaign slogan, was also absent for the Patriots’ 2015 White House visit under former President Barack Obama and also cited family-related reasons for missing that trip. New England defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX that year.
Brady did not reveal specific details about his current family issues, although according to Bleacher Report, the quarterback’s mother has been battling cancer and was unable to attend any of the star’s games during the 2016 season. Brady’s mother did, however, attend the Super Bowl. The Boston Herald, citing sources close to Brady, reported the quarterback has opted to spend time with his mother Wednesday.
The quarterback’s six teammates who are also missing the White House trip cited a variety reasons for not attending: family or other personal reasons, or because they do not hold a favorable view of President Trump.
Many of those Patriots are African-American, and Trump became known throughout his campaign and even in the early weeks of his presidency for making racist statements, or generally treating black Americans in a disdainful and patronizing way by perpetuating stereotypes about this demographic. Some Patriots players, like Bennett, announced they would not attend the White House visit shortly after the team’s overtime victory against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI in February.
“People know how I feel about it,” Bennett said in the Super Bowl LI post-game press conference. “Just follow me on Twitter.” The tight end joked he might move to outer space after Trump got elected.
“I just don’t feel welcome in that house,” Blount said in a radio interview on “The Rich Eisen Show.”
McCourty, a team captain, voiced similar sentiments. “Basic reason for me is I don’t feel accepted in the White House,” the safety told Time magazine. With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices, I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won’t.”
Bennett and McCourty were among the dozens of American professional athletes who protested the national anthem last fall to make a statement about the oppression of minorities and general racial inequality. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the move.
Here are Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty raising their fists for the National Anthem. Patriots, both. pic.twitter.com/rDilAEaCUj
Branch told Sirius XM Radio he wished to spend time with his family.
Hightower told ESPN, “been there, done that.” The linebacker, who also missed the Patriots’ 2015 trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, previously visited the White House after he won a college championship game with Alabama.
McCourty and Long, who is now a free agent and won’t be playing with the Patriots next season, released a joint video on social media called “Standing Pats” on Friday explaining their decision to miss the White House visit.
“When my son grows up — and I believe the legacy of our president is going to be what it is — I don’t want him to say, ‘Hey dad, why’d you go when you knew the right thing was to not go,'” Long says in the video.
This is hardly the first time professional athletes have made strong social or political statements in elaborating their reasons for not visiting the White House.
Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas refused to visit the Obama White House in 2012, and said in a statement: “I believe the federal government has grown out of control, threatening the rights, liberties and property of the people.”
Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk also declined to visit the White House in 2013 after the team’s Super Bowl win, citing his opposition to abortion as his reason.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert K. Kraft are also reportedly close friends with Trump. Kraft said the President, a billionaire real estate mogul and former reality television star, was very kind to him when his wife was suffering from cancer. Kraft contributed $1 million to Trump’s inauguration party, and the pair have been spotted together frequently since the latter took office.