At least four Patriots players would skip White House victory visit

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Friday, February 10, 2017
At least four Patriots would skip White House victory visit
President Trump is expected to extend an invitation to the White House, but four Patriots say they won't be going.

For Super Bowl-winning teams, the celebration doesn't traditionally stop after the parade. The president typically hosts the champions for a celebration at the White House, but this year the full team might not attend.

Though the invitation has not been extended officially, at least four New England Patriots said they would not come, though they did not all cite political reasons.

"It was obviously a spectacular game," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said. He added that President Trump was looking forward to hosting the champions.

The president has a friendship with three key Patriots figures: owner Robert Kraft, star quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick. The connection led to decreased enthusiasm for some Patriots fans while also earning them more fans, according to the Associated Press.

The four Patriots members who have so far said they would decline an invitation are tight end Martellus Bennett, defensive back Devin McCourty, defensive end Chris Long and linebacker Dont'a Hightower.

Martellus Bennett

New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett speaks with reporters in the teams' locker room before a scheduled NFL football practice, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017.
Steven Senne/AP Photo

Following the Patriots' win, Bennett said he wouldn't go to the White House.

"It is what it is. People know how I feel about it," Bennett said.

Bennett has said that he doesn't support "the guy in the White House." In the wake of the election, Bennett wrote a letter of encouragement to his daughter that began, "Daddy how will this effect my future?"

Devin McCourty

New England Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty (32) responds to a reporter's question during an NFL football team media availability, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017.
Stephan Savoia/AP Photo

McCourty said he didn't feel welcome by President Trump.

"Basic reason for me is I don't feel accepted in the White House," McCourty told TIME. "With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others don't."

Chris Long

New England Patriots defensive end Chris Long speaks with reporters in the team's locker room before an NFL football team practice, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016.
Steven Senne/AP Photo

In response to an open letter asking him to skip the visit for political reasons, Long said he had always planned on doing so. His agent declined to comment further to ABC News.

Dont'a Hightower

New England Patriots middle linebacker Dont'a Hightower speaks with members of the media following an NFL football team practice, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017.
Steven Senne/AP Photo

Linebacker Dont'a Hightower's reason for not planning to go to the White House? "Been there, done that."

Hightower also did not visit President Obama when the Patriots won in 2015. He had already visited President Obama after winning a championship as a member of Alabama's Crimson Tide.

The Associated Press and ABC News contributed to this report.