Many of the Super Bowl champions are expected to pass on the trip to Washington D.C.
The New England Patriots are invited to the visit the White House on April 19 and celebrate the team’s victory in Super Bowl LI, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Thursday. The question now is how many players will accept that invitation.
In the days after the team’s come-from-behind victory over the Atlanta Falcons, the impending visit to Washington D.C. became a point of interest. Several players — including Martellus Bennett, LeGarrette Blount and Devin McCourty — already said they won’t make the trip.
While quarterback Tom Brady said visits to the White House were “never a political thing” for him and he values the experience, for most other players on the roster, the visit will be a tough choice. With many on the team already taking sides, any player who decides to attend will be seen as tacitly endorsing President Donald Trump. Any player who doesn’t go likely will be seen as expressing political beliefs, regardless of their motivations.
Trump’s divisive actions and rhetoric during his presidential campaign and his first two months in office have created a surge in political activism among athletes across many sports. While the Patriots’ owner, coach and star player have all supported Trump, it’s likely that more players will join the group of players who have already decided to pass on the trip.