WASHINGTON (NEWS CENTER) -- The New England Patriots visited the White House on Wednesday to have their Super Bowl LI victory recognized by President Trump.
Several Patriots players did not attend the ceremony.
Tight end Martellus Bennett, who signed with the Green Bay Packers this offseason, was the first to say before the Super Bowl he would sit out any such celebration, citing his opposition to many of Trump's positions. Safety Devin McCourty and running back LeGarrette Blount both said they would decline because they did not feel welcome at the White House.
Defensive end Chris Long, defensive tackle Alan Branch and linebacker Dont'a Hightower said they would not make the trip, though not necessarily for political reasons. Hightower said he had "been there, done that," after he visited the White House as a member of Alabama's national championship team in 2012. He did not attend after the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX, either, when President Obama was still in office.
Trump has repeatedly touted his ties to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, though the MVP of Super Bowl LI dodged questions about their relationship in the lead-up to the game. Patriots owner Robert Kraft flew on Air Force One with Trump on Sunday and has said the two have been close since his wife Myra died of cancer in 2011.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick confirmed he wrote Trump a letter of support before the election, but said it was personal and not politically driven.