The drama surrounding the New England Patriots didn’t end with their fifth Super Bowl title.
Several Patriots have created a buzz by announcing through various media they won’t be visiting the White House, a tradition among professional sports teams after winning a championship. Many of those players cited President Donald Trump as the reason why they’re skipping, claiming they “don’t feel welcome” in Trump’s White House.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft, of course, has a much-publicized relationship with Trump. In an appearance Monday on NBC’s “TODAY Show,” Kraft addressed the issue of the White House visit for the first time.
“Well, you know what’s interesting — this is our fifth Super Bowl in the last 16 years,” Kraft said. “And every time we have the privilege of going to the White House, a dozen of our players don’t go. This is the first time it’s gotten any media attention.
“Some of the players have the privilege of going in college because they’re on national championship teams. Others have family commitments. But this is America. We’re all free to do whatever’s best for us. We’re just privileged to be in a position to be going.”
Patriots players have declined White House visits in the past, most notably Tom Brady, who didn’t visit President Barack Obama after New England won Super Bowl XLIX. And despite his history with Trump, it makes sense Kraft would publicly support his players’ decisions either way.
Kraft also was asked about another sensitive subject — his relationship with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after Deflategate — but decided to take the high road.
“We’re excited. We won the Super Bowl,” Kraft replied when asked if the book officially is closed on Deflategate. “We look forward to trying to be in the game next year when NBC has it.”
Thumbnail photo via John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports Images
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