Alan Branch, LeGarrette Blount, Martellus Bennett, Devin McCourty, Dont'a Hightower and Chris Long all have said that they will not attend, with most of them stating that their decision was based in part on their disagreement with the policies of President Donald Trump. (Click here for Bennett's reasoning, here for McCourty's, here for Hightower's, and here for Long's.)
They're not the first athletes -- or even the first Patriots -- to skip the traditional White House visit. Pats QB Tom Brady didn't go two years ago, citing a previously-scheduled family obligation, only to be seen shopping at the Apple Store in New York City. Brady was asked in an appearance on "PFT Live" how he feels about the list of teammates that won't be joining him to visit the White House this time around.
"It really is a great experience," Brady said. "Putting politics aside, it never was a political thing. At least, it never was to me. It meant you won a championship and you got to experience something cool with your team, with your teammates. Everyone has their own choice. It's an offseason. These days are valuable for everybody. You only get so much time with your family and friends, and if people don't want to go they don't want to go and that's their choice."
Patriots owner Robert Kraft, meanwhile, was interviewed on the "Today" show on Monday and made his opinion on the players skipping the White House known as well.
"Well, you know what's interesting: this is our, I'm happy to say, fifth Super Bowl in the last 16 years," Kraft 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."