Shortly after the Patriots’ stunning fourth-quarter Super Bowl win, there was a conversation about the Patriots and their politics. Patriots’ QB Tom Brady is friends with Donald Trump and Brady had the Make America Great Again hat and everything. Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick supported Trump, and many of Trump’s Nazi/Alt-right supporters were rooting for the Patriots because – and I sh-t you not – the Patriots were the “whitest” team. That being said, there are some African-Americans who play for the Patriots. And it seems like none of them want to visit the White House while President Trump is there. Last week, we learned that Devin McCourty and Martellus Bennett refuse to go. And now four more Patriots teammates are joining them.
Fresh off their win at the Super Bowl, six members of the New England Patriots have backed out of the traditional post-game meeting with President Donald Trump — a sharp new sign of deepening American divisions. Tight end Martellus Bennett was the first player to back out of the meeting at the White House, which is typically held for members of the team that won the Super Bowl. Bennett announced he wouldn’t be attending the meeting shortly after the Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
The next day, safety Devin McCourty joined Bennett, saying he would not attend the meeting because “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.”
Other team members soon followed: On Wednesday, linebacker Dont’a Hightower said he wouldn’t attend. Then, on Thursday, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive tackle Alan Branch, and defensive end Chris Long all said they would not be attending the meeting with Trump. Five of the players planning to skip the meeting are black. The sixth, Long, who is white, announced he wouldn’t attend in response to an open letter in the New York Daily News criticizing a “pathetic sea of NFL white silence this year.”
In addition to the Daily News letter, fans have also been stepping up pressure for team members to boycott the White House meeting, and expressing support for those who won’t attend.
You can read that NYDN open letter here – it was directed at Chris Long, because Long was one of the few white NFL players who spoke out in support of Colin Kaepernick last year, when Colin decided he wasn’t going to stand for the National Anthem. After that letter was published, Long confirmed on Twitter that he would not visit the Baby Fists’ White House.
Now, does it matter in the grand scheme of things that some wealthy football players refuse to meet with the president for a photo-op? Of course not. But it does matter to specific people. It matters to the players refusing to go, because they’re standing up for themselves and for people without their wealth and privilege, people who will be hurt by Trump’s policies and his ignorance. It also matters to Trump, because he’s a thin-skinned starf–ker who loves to hang out with “winners.” Arguably, all Trump cares about are the optics, the photo-ops and the presidential trappings. And so it will matter to him BIGLY that a half-dozen Patriots (“winners”) don’t want to have anything to do with him.
Photos courtesy of Getty.