James said, however, that the size of the Patriots’ full delegation for each trip to the White House has been roughly the same. Some photos of the ceremonies include support staff, he said, making the turnout appear bigger. That, he said, was the case in 2015.
The White House did not immediately respond to an email inquiring about Wednesday’s turnout.
Quarterback Tom Brady was among those who did not attend Wednesday’s ceremony, citing family matters. Trump did not mention Brady, the Super Bowl’s most valuable player,during the ceremony. Brady had been spotted in 2015 with one of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats in his locker.
The visit to the White House came the same day that a former Patriot, Aaron Hernandez, hanged himself in prison, where he was serving a life sentence for murder.
During the ceremony, Trump heaped praise on the Patriots — “No team has been this good for this long.” He also could not resist making allusions to his campaign.
“With your backs against the wall, and the pundits — good old pundits, boy, they’re wrong a lot, aren’t they? — saying you couldn’t do it, the game was over, you pulled off the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all time.”
Trump also thanked Coach Bill Belichick for writing a letter before the election praising him.
“Whether you’re trying to win a Super Bowl or rebuild our country, as Coach Belichick would say, ‘There are no days off.’ ”
Trump was presented with the usual ceremonial jersey, with the No. 45 and “Trump” on the back, as well as a helmet.
Did Not Attend
Brady was the most prominent Patriot absent on Wednesday. He also skipped his team’s visit with Obama, also citing family issues.
Other Patriots who announced ahead of time that they were not going to the White House included running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive end Chris Long, defensive tackle Alan Branch, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, tight end Martellus Bennett and safety Devin McCourty.
BLOUNT in a radio interview on “The Rich Eisen Show,” said, “I just don’t feel welcome in that house.”
BENNETT told reporters after the Super Bowl: “It is what it is. People know how I feel about it. Just follow me on Twitter.” The outspoken Bennett had joked that he might move to outer space after Donald J. Trump was elected.
MCCOURTY, a team captain, told Time magazine: “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…