HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Team owner of the New England Patriots Robert Kraft holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Joy Johnston contributed to this report.
There's been a lot of support as well as criticism for the decisions of some Super Bowl champions publicly declining to go to the White House.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft addressed the topic Monday on “The Today Show” by downplaying it.
“Well, you know what’s interesting, this is our, I’m happy to say, fifth Super Bowl in the last 16 years,” he said. “And every time we’ve had 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.
“You know, 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.”
Defensive back Devin McCourty also announced his decision not to go to D.C.
“I’m not going to the White House. Basic reason for me is 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,” he said.
Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady skipped a White House team visit with President Obama in 2015, after the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX. At the time Brady said he had a previously arranged “family commitment,” but there was speculation that Brady was upset at a Deflategate joke made by then-White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.