Earlier this offseason, Alan Branch said he would be skipping the New England Patriots’ celebratory White House visit to spend more time with his family.
As it turns out, that was only part of his reason for sitting the trip out.
In an interview Boston Globe politics reporter Annie Linskey that was published Tuesday, Branch said he had no desire to meet President Donald Trump after hearing the sexist remarks Trump made during a 2005 conversation with Access Hollywood host Billy Bush. Audio of those remarks was made public in October, roughly one month before the 2016 presidential election.
“I have three daughters,” the 32-year-old defensive tackle said. “I wouldn’t spend time away from my family to shake the hand of a guy I wouldn’t want to meet with or talk to. I can’t see myself going and then hanging out with my kids and pretending everything was all right.”
Branch rejected Trump’s claim that his remarks were an example of “locker room talk.”
“I’ve never heard nor talked like that in my life in a locker room, and my 11th season is coming up,” Branch told Linskey. “The way he talked, so aggressively, I’ve just never heard that. I am uncomfortable with that.”
Branch is one of six Patriots players who publicly have said they will not attend New England’s White House visit, which is set for Wednesday afternoon. Safety Devin McCourty, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive end Chris Long, tight end Martellus Bennett and linebacker Dont’a Hightower also have opted out, with all but Hightower saying they are doing so for political reasons.
McCourty and Long explained their reasoning in a YouTube video posted last week.
Of the six known White House no-shows, only Branch, McCourty and Hightower currently are under contract with the Patriots. Long and Bennett signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers, respectively, after Super Bowl LI, and Blount remains an unrestricted free agent.
Branch told Linskey the Patriots did not pressure him to join his teammates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
“They’re not forcing me to do anything,” Branch said.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images