WASHINGTON (AP) The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots made a traditional celebratory visit to the White House Wednesday, a normally joyous ritual marred by the prison suicide hours earlier of former teammate Aaron Hernandez.
The players cited Trump's comments against women and exclusionary remarks as reasons for sitting out of the meeting. And a number of other Patriots stars boycotted the event because of President Trump, leaving the crowd a bit less star-studded than it has been in past years.
Tight End Martellus Bennett told reporters after the Super Bowl: "It is what it is. That's the beauty of what they do, they win as a team", said Trump, who equated some similarity to the team's stirring 25-point comeback against the Atlanta Falcons with his own political victory.
Trump borrowed one of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's most famous phrases in his speech honoring the defending champions.More news: Leonard scores 37, Spurs grab 2-0 series lead
Patriots' owner Robert Kraft compared his team's remarkable comeback, after being down 21 to 3 at halftime and overtime, to President Trump's unlikely campaign to win the White House.
Kraft said it was an honor to celebrate what he described as "their sweetest victory" with a good friend like Trump.
Trump's welcome to the team, scheduled for early afternoon, is coming hours after the news from MA prisons officials that ex-Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez hanged himself in his prison cell. He said a "family commitment" prevented him from attending the 2015 ceremony held by then-President Obama.
Bundchen has in the past expressed her displeasure with Trump - unlike her husband, Brady, who has been friends with the real estate mogul-turned-president for years.More news: Klopp only satisfied with Champions League qualification
"I've had the great privileged to be here several times, but this one, th way we were treated the opportunity to be in the Oval Office and be with the President, and see the inside of the White House, has just been fabulous", Belichick said of Wednesday's visit.
Brady issued a statement Wednesday morning saying he is "unable to attend (Wednesday's) ceremony, as I am attending to some personal family matters".
According to The Boston Globe, 34 Patriots players were at the White House to visit with Trump.
UPDATE: Without Trump even having to ask, the New England Patriots rushed to his defense, tweeting that the two pics "lack context" and that the 2015 pic included team staff lining the stairs.More news: Super Earth 'is best place to look for signs of life'