By Brittany Webb
Despite having a career where taking a fall on the field is sometimes inevitable, several members of the New England Patriots football team have reportedly decided to stand for what they believe in. They say they will sit out of the traditional visit to the White House by the Super Bowl Championship team.
So far, six players – five Black players and one White – have announced their decision to not participate in the team’s visit. Those players are reportedly Martellus Bennett, Devin McCourty, Chris Long, LeGarrette Blount, Alan Branch and Dont’a Hightower. Long is the White player who says he will not go.
“I’m not going to the White House,” McCourty said in a text to TIME magazine. “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.”
That unwelcome feeling is a feeling that McCourty shares with Blount, who, when asked about the team’s visit to the White House on The Rich Eisen Show, said, “I will not… It’s just some of the things—I just don’t feel welcome into that house. I’m just going to leave it at that.”
Bennett was the first player to announce his decision when he addressed the visit in a postgame press conference, citing opposition to President Trump as his reason. Despite his views, Bennett says there is no divide in the team because of political views.
“We all have our beliefs,” Bennett said. “The thing is, we accept people for who they are. And that’s the biggest thing about what this country is really about. I don’t really care what you believe. It’s not going to separate me from accepting you for who you are.”
Bennett says anyone wanting to know more about his reasons for not going to the White House should just follow him on Twitter. Among his most recent tweet was immediately following Trump’s announced travel ban.
The date of the White House visit has not yet been publically announced.
“America was built on inclusiveness not exclusiveness,” he tweeted.
It was also apparent bias and statements made by the commander-in-chief that influenced Patriots safety McCourty from skipping the trip as well.
Although Long did not go into detail about his decision to skip the visit, it can be assumed, by his previous statements regarding race relations in America, that he is not fond of the current president and his policies.
Branch is choosing to stay at home with family, while Hightower says he’s “been there, done that.”
After the team’s victory, President Trump tweeted his support for the team and his friends quarterback Tom Brady, team owner Bob Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick.
“What an amazing comeback and win by the Patriots,” Trump tweeted. “Tom Brady, Bob Kraft and Coach B are total winners. Wow!”
Despite being a friend of Trump, Kraft respects the decision of the players to not visit the White House.
“This is America,” Kraft said on the Today Show. “We’re all free to do whatever’s best for us, and we’re just privileged to be in the position to be going.”
This is not the first time a Patriot has opted out of the team’s visit to the White House. In 2015, Brady decided to skip the team visit to the White House, under the Obama administration, after defeating the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl in 2015.