Five members of the Super Bowl LI champion New England Patriots have claimed they will not attend the White House when invited to celebrate their title. President Donald Trump may be friends with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, but a growing number of players have already given reasons why they won’t join their team in D.C. for the celebration.
Martellus Bennettmade headlines in the wake of the victory Sunday night by opting out of the visit. He was quickly followed by Devin McCourty, who sent a text message to TIME on Monday explaining he wouldn’t attend. McCourty had the following to say:
“I’m not going to the White House.
“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.”
Dont'a Hightower claims he won’t attend but didn’t say if it was for political reasons or not. He did not attend in 2014 when he won his first ring with the Patriots, but did go when he won a title with Alabama in college:
Chris Long has said he won’t attend but hasn’t said why. He claims he’s not “joining” anyone’s protest, just making the decision for himself:
LeGarrette Blount has joined his teammates in saying he won’t attend because, “I don’t feel welcome in that house. I’ll leave it at that.”
So that’s five of the Patriots who have opted out of attending the ceremony, and I’d bet heavily in favor of more deciding to do the same.