On Wednesday, April 19, the New England Patriots were in Washington, D.C. for a celebratory trip to the White House, a traditional meet-and-greet with the president in recognition of a major American sports championship. But not all of the players showed up, for different reasons. Some of them are openly political ― tight end Martellus Bennett, for example, is a vehement critic of President Trump, and running back LaGarratte Blount has told an interviewer he doesn't "feel welcome in that house." But, why wasn't Tom Brady at the White House?
The announcement that Brady was not attending the event broke early Wednesday, and it definitely stirred up some surprise, considering the future Hall of Fame quarterback made headlines for his support for Trump during the 2016 presidential race. Not that he was very eager to talk about it, but Brady made it clear back in late 2015 ― after reporters spotted a "Make America Great Again" hat in his locker ― that he considered the then-candidate a friend, and said he supported all his friends.
And yet, he wasn't at the White House. In a statement he released Wednesday morning, Brady cited "personal family matters" which prevented him from attending, and thanked Trump for hosting the reception. Here's his explanation in full, as provided to CNN:
I am so happy and excited that our team is being honored at the White House today. Our team has accomplished something very special that we are all proud of and will be for years to come. Thank you to the President for hosting this honorary celebration and for supporting our team for as long as I can remember. In light of some recent developments, I am unable to attend today's ceremony, as I am attending to some personal family matters. Hopefully, if we accomplish the goal of winning a championship in the future years, we will back on the South Lawn again soon. Have a great day!
Brady is not the only powerful and important player in the Patriots organization with ties to Trump. The team's owner, Bob Kraft, is a longtime friend of the president, as is the team's head coach Bill Belichick, who has described his "friendship and loyalty to Donald," and even wrote him a gushing letter — which Trump read aloud on the campaign trail — just days prior to the election. But as the star and centerpiece of the franchise, Brady is undeniably the figure most publicly associated with the team, and would've therefore likely been front-and-center in any coverage of the event.
That wasn't the case now that he stayed away. This is in absolutely no sense an unprecedented decision for him, however. He similarly skipped the White House celebration for the team's win in the 2015 Super Bowl, which was former president Barack Obama's final time greeting the team.