Less than a week after New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett said he does not plan to visit President Donald Trump's White House to celebrate the team's historic Super Bowl win, five of Bennett's teammates are now saying they will follow his lead.
The winning Super Bowl team traditionally travels to the White House each year to meet the president and celebrate their victory.
Patriots defensive lineman Alan Branch became the sixth Patriots player to announce that he'll break with tradition, saying Wednesday during an interview on SiriusXm NFL Radio that he won't attend for family reasons.
“I’ve got four kids at home so I’m just going to hang out with the family and continue celebrating until the next season starts,” Branch said, according to the Hill.
Branch was careful not to bring politics into the conversation, but as Sporting News noted, Branch did travel to the White House in celebration of the Patriots 2015 win while former President Barack Obama was in office.
Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower didn't invoke politics as the reason for his decision not to meet President Trump, either. It seems that for Hightower, one trip to the White House is enough.
“Been there, done that,” Hightower said, ESPN's Mike Reiss reported.
Hightower didn't join his teammates at the White House after their 2015 win, either. The linebacker traveled to the White House in 2014 after winning a national title with the University of Alabama, NBC Sports reported.
Defensive end Chris Long announced his intention to boycott Trump's White House in a tweet sent out Thursday, saying he "planned on skipping."
Long was responding to New York Daily News sports columnist Chuck Modiano, who authored a piece published in the newspaper Thursday, calling on Long to "stand up to Trump with your Patriots teammates."
Some other teammates, however, gave more controversial reasons for staying at home.
“I’m not going to the White House," Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty said, according to Time, adding, "Basic reason for me is 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."
Running back LeGarrette Blount also indicated this week that he will not be traveling to Washington, D.C., telling "The Rich Eisen Radio Show" Thursday: "I will NOT be going to the White House. I don't feel welcome in that house. I'll leave it at that."
Branch, Hightower, Long, McCourty and Blount's announcements all came the same week that Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett told reporters he, too, would skip the traditional White House visit.
“I don’t support the guy that’s in the house," Bennett said just days before the Super Bowl.