The New England Patriots visited the White House to celebrate their fifth Super Bowl title on Wednesday.
Well, at least most of the team did.
Key players like Tom Brady, Devin McCourty, Martellus Bennett, Dont’a Hightower, Chris Long, and LeGarrette Blount all skipped their chance to be lauded by President Donald Trump after pioneering the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history this February. Brady’s absence — his second skipped D.C. trip in a row — was due to “personal family matters.” McCourty, Blount, Long, and Bennett missed the ceremony for political reasons. Hightower isn’t going because he’s already been twice after winning NCAA titles at Alabama.
According to the team’s photo in front of the White House, several more contributors also decided to stay home. Super Bowl heroes Malcolm Butler, Danny Amendola, and James White weren’t present. Neither were contributors like Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Logan Ryan, and Shaq Mason.
That left players like Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Marcus Cannon to represent the team in the nation’s capital. They were joined, of course, by head coach and Trump supporter Bill Belichick to greet the president on an overcast spring afternoon.
Before the ceremony
It started in front of the White House, where the bulk of the team, its coaches, and owner Robert Kraft took photos with their five Vince Lombardi trophies. Images are courtesy of the Patriots Snapchat.
After taking pictures, the team rolled inside, where Gronkowski took a moment to interrupt press secretary Sean Spicer’s briefing. Spicer, a noted Patriots fan, didn’t seem to mind.
From there, Belichick swung over to the Oval Office, where he and girlfriend Linda Holliday posed with their old friend.
The formal celebration of Super Bowl 51
Trump addressed the team outside, giving New England fans what they always want to hear; stories about George Steinbrenner. The POTUS kicked off his speech by comparing the Patriots to the Yankees, a bold move designed to make both fanbases hate themselves just a little bit more.
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) April 19, 2017
From there, Trump recounted the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all time, singling out the play of guys like Amendola (who, awkwardly, wasn’t in attendance), Trey Flowers, and Julian Edelman. He then compared the Patriots’ strategy to his own, telling reporters “whether you’re trying to win a Super Bowl or rebuild our country, as Coach Belichick would say, there are no days off.” That segued to a story about how the future Hall of Famer wrote him a letter of endorsement on the campaign trail.
Patriots executives reflect on Super Bowl 51, Trump’s campaign
Trump reflected on the Patriots for approximately 10 minutes before handing the podium over to Kraft, who called the Super Bowl 51 win “unequivocally our sweetest victory.” He compared the team’s epic comeback to Trump’s triumph on the campaign trail, noting he beat out “16 career politicians” (in the Republican primaries) to shock the world and earn a spot in the White House. He capped his speech by handing a customized jersey to President Trump.
Kraft gave way to Belichick, who thanked the White House staff, his players, and Patriots fans before discussing how proud he was of his team. Belichick gave about three minutes of classic coach-speak before handing the president a commemorative helmet to close out the ceremony.