After assaulting the record book during their dramatic comeback in Super Bowl LI, the New England Patriots are not done yet with the matter of making history.
The next “record” poised to collapse under the weight of the dynasty: White House rejections.
In a postscript to the thriller that marked the fifth Super Bowl victory during the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady collaboration, six players from the NFL’s freshest champion have already declared they won’t join the upcoming party at the White House to celebrate with President Trump.
Have six players from a Super Bowl winner ever skipped the trip to the ‘House?
Yet with the Patriots’ three most powerful figures – team owner Robert Kraft, Belichick and Brady – aligned in some form or fashion with the polarizing president this needs to happen.
Especially when Brady was a glaring no show – for reason he hasn’t explained publicly — the last time the Patriots went to the White House and were hosted by President Obama.
Kraft likes to assert, “We are all Patriots!” amid the flow of accepting championship trophies. No problem with that. It’s an ideal sentiment that plays off his team’s nickname.
Let’s hope that Kraft – a lifelong Democrat – implores Trump to maintain that spirit of inclusiveness during their social visits, like the dinner Friday at the President’s resort in Palm Beach, Fla.
In the meantime, it’s refreshing to see that the “all Patriots” team includes some players with a conscious that illustrates a connection with so many people in the broader society. Trump may openly root for the Patriots and drop the names of Brady, Kraft and Belichick amid his political speeches, but at least there’s some resistance to the “Trump’s Team” narrative.
Let’s call them the Initial Six: Martellus Bennett. Devin McCourty. Chris Long. LeGarrette Blount. Alan Branch. Dont’a Hightower.
I’m guessing that by the time the yet-to-be-scheduled affair commences, the number of Patriot no-shows will grow. Super Bowl hero James White maintains he’s unsure if he’ll go, and will decide after the invite becomes official.
What a statement game this is, capping the end of an NFL season that in keeping pace with the nation at large was in many ways, “The Year of the Protest.”
While a couple of the players – Hightower and Branch – offered reasons for pulling out that were apolitical, the others left no illusions about their willingness to take a stand. Or a pass.
McCourty, a team captain who might be the most respected Patriot in the locker room outside of Brady, said he doesn’t feel accepted in the White House. It’s a shame the affairs this nation have become so polarized and the rhetoric so vile that a citizen would express that.
SOURCE: Jarrett Bell