Super Bowl 51 Champion New England Patriots Visit President Trump at White House

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2017

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, center, and others, listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 19, 2017, where the president honored the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots for their Super Bowl LI victory. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

Members of the New England Patriots visited the White House on Wednesday to commemorate their Super Bowl 51 triumph over the Atlanta Falcons.

The trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. represented the first by any professional sports team since Donald Trump moved into the Oval Office.

All told, 34 members of the reigning champions were in attendance, according to NESN's Zack Cox and Doug Kyed.

Several key contributors were absent.

The most notable was quarterback Tom Brady, who released a statement Wednesday morning saying he couldn't make the trip because he had to see to "personal family matters," per ESPN's Mike Reiss:

According to the New York Times' Victor Mather, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive tackle Alan Branch, defensive end Chris Long, safety Devin McCourty, tight end Martellus Bennett and linebacker Dont'a Hightower skipped out on the proceedings for various reasons.

Danny Amendola was also absent for personal reasons:

Blount—who is currently an unsigned free agent—and McCourty both previously said in interviews they wouldn't take part in the festivities because they didn't feel welcome at the White House.

As far as the ceremony itself was concerned, President Trump started things off by praising the Patriots for their come-from-behind effort after they trailed 28-3 in the third quarter, as CBS News documented on Twitter:

"No team has been this good for this long," Trump added, according to the Providence Journal's Mark Daniels.

Trump also channeled one of head coach Bill Belichick's favorite catchphrases when discussing parallels between the Patriots and the presidency.

"Whether you're trying to win a Super Bowl or rebuild a country, like Coach Belichick says, no days off," Trump said, per Daniels.

Trump later touched on the letter Belichick sent him, which he first mentioned on the eve of the election last November, as NFL Network's Mike Garafolo noted: 

Finally, the Patriots presented Trump with a personalized No. 45 jersey, which NBC News captured on Twitter: 

With Wednesday's ceremony a thing of the past, the Patriots will turn their attention toward a potential repeat in 2017 as they seek a return trip to the South Lawn of the White House this time next year.