The New England Patriots will be at least six players short when the Super Bowl 51 champs head to the White House to meet President Donald Trump later this year. In doing so, they will join a growing list of illustrious athletes who have snubbed sitting presidents.
Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett actually declined the invitation before the Pats even won the big game. Last month, he told reporters that he wouldn't visit 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. if his team won because he opposes President Donald Trump.
More recently, his teammate Devin McCourty announced on Monday that he would be skipping the event for the same reasons. "I'm not going to the White House," McCourty told TIME via text message. "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."
Pats running back LeGarrette Blount echoed that sentiment on Thursday when he turned down the invitation. “I just don’t feel welcome in that house,” Blount told Fox Sports.
Meanwhile, teammates Chris Long, Alan Branch and Dont'a Hightower also plan to sit out the visit.
Some will say that these Patriots players are acting, well, unpatriotic by snubbing President Trump. But they aren't the only ones to skip the celebratory White House visit. Here are 21 other athletes who have turned down invitations to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
In 2015, the future hall-of-fame quarterback skipped out on meeting President Barack Obama with his teammates. The team claimed that he had a family commitment, but ESPN later discovered that he spent the day working out at Gillette Stadium.
But we have a feeling that he won't miss the chance to hang out with his buddy Trump in the White House this year.
2. Brock Osweiler, Denver Broncos
Brady's not the only football player to skip a trip to the White House for the sake of staying in game shape. In 2016, Peyton Manning's backup quarterback for Super Bowl 50 so that he could get ready for his full-time QB gig with the Houston Texans.
3. Matt Birk, Baltimore Ravens
The Super Bowl XLVII champ turned down the opportunity to meet President Obama in 2013, citing religious differences. But he did reveal what he would have said had he gone.
"I would say that I have great respect for the office of the presidency, but about five or six weeks ago, our president made a comment in a speech and he said, 'God bless Planned Parenthood.' Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year. I am Catholic, I am active in the pro-life movement and I just felt like I couldn't deal with that. I couldn't endorse that in any way."
4-6. A Trio of Miami Dolphins
In 2013, Obama invited the 1972 Miami Dolphins to the White House to celebrate the only team that completed an undefeated season and post-season in NFL history. But three members decided not to go for political reasons.
"We've got some real moral compass issues in Washington," center Jim Langer said. "I don't want to be in a room with those people and pretend I'm having a good time. I can't do that. If that [angers] people, so be it."
"I just don't believe in this administration at all," Dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg said. "So I don't belong. Anyone on the left or the right has to respect one man's opinion."
Former teammate Manny Fernandez added, "I'll just say my views are diametrically opposed to the President's. Enough said. Let's leave it at that. I hope everyone enjoys the trip who goes."
7. Dan Hampton, Chicago Bears
The White House event to honor the Super Bowl XX champions was postponed in 1986 due to the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy in January of that year. It would remain on hiatus until Obama finally invited the team to the White House for their belated congrats in 2011. But by that time, defensive tackle Dan "The Danimal" Hampton felt too miffed to attend.
"I understand why we didn’t go the week after the game," Hampton told The Huffington Post, "if indeed it was the Challenger that the White House and the regular administration was dealing with, I understand that. But there were other months — March, April, May, June — we could've went. And, obviously, it wasn’t a pressing issue for the organization here. And so, it just basically, just, you know, rolled off our backs. And now 25 years later, uh, to say, ‘Oh, yeah, let’s put the band back together’? Nah, I’m not in."
Hampton added that he was “not a fan of the guy in the White House.”
8. Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
The 2011 Stanley Cup winning goaltender was also an outspoken member of the Tea Party movement. So when he and his teammates were invited to meet Obama at the White House in 2012, he used to opportunity to protest all levels of U.S. government by boycotting the visit.
"I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People," Thomas wrote in a statement. " This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government. Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL."
9-13. Five NASCAR Racers
NASCAR Drivers Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart all turned down Obama's invitation to the White House in 2011 due to scheduling conflicts.
14. James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers linebacker refused to visit the White House both times that he and his teammates won the Super Bowl. He snubbed President George W. Bush in 2006 and Obama in 2009 because he felt that the visit was nothing but pomp and circumstance.
"This is how I feel — if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl," he said in 2009. "As far as I'm concerned, he [Obama] would've invited Arizona if they had won."
So apparently he only wants to visit the White House if the commander-in-chief is a diehard fan of his team.
15. Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis slugger skipped out on meeting George W. Bush in 2007 because he was taking part in a humanitarian mission in the Dominican Republic. "This is a trip we've been planning for almost a year right now," he told reporters. "I'm taking six doctors and two assistants down to the Dominican. As of right now, we've going to three villages and work with 1,000 kids in six days."
He also decided not to meet Obama with his Cardinals teammates in 2012. But his reasons seemed to be professional instead of political. At the time, he had signed a new contract with Anaheim.
16. Ozzie Guillen, Chicago White Sox
The 2005 World Series champ was on vacation with his family when his teammates went to the White House to meet President Bush. Some speculated that the shortstop's friendship with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was the reason for the snub. But that doesn't seem likely since Guillen attended the World Series celebration with Bush two years earlier. And he was deeply moved by the event.
"I think meeting George Bush in the White House and the way the president expressed himself in front of my kids was special," he later said. "He told my kids he felt proud of me because of how quick I got to the big leagues and having people like me in baseball is what baseball needs. To have the president of the United States take the time to say that in front of my kids and my wife when he has a lot of work to do and has a lot of problems, I think I'll never feel more proud in my life than that day."
17. Manny Ramirez, Boston Red Sox
The outfielder skipped meeting George W. Bush both times that he won the World Series with the Red Sox. In 2005, a teammate covered up for him by saying Ramirez's grandmother was sick. But when it happened again in 2008, Bush quipped, "I guess his grandmother died again."
18. Mark Chmura, Green Bay Packers
The Super Bowl XXXI winning tight end couldn't make his 1997 visit with Bill Clinton because he was competing in a golf tournament that day. But he later considered the scheduling conflict serendipitous when news broke of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
"I knew it all along," Chmura later said. "It doesn't really say much for society and the morals [Bill Clinton] sets forth for our children."
19. Tom Lehman, Ryder Cup Golfer
When Lehman and his golfing teammates won the Ryder Cup in 1993, he had no intentions of visiting President Clinton with them. Lehman referred to the 42nd president as a "draft-dodging baby killer."
20. Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
The basketball legend skipped out on meeting George H.W. Bush with his teammates the first time the Bulls won the NBA Championship in 1991. But it was for personal instead of political reasons.
"As you know, my schedules have been very hectic," he told reporters after the incident. "You guys have seen me, I've been every which way, and because I choose to take my private three days somewhere no one can call me, it's my prerogative."
21. Larry Bird, Boston Celtics
Larry Bird didn't offer any explanation for his decision to skip out on meeting Ronald Reagan in 1984. But he didn't completely close the door on a meeting with the commander-in-chief. "If the president wants to see me, he knows where to find me," he said with a chuckle during a radio interview that was held while his teammates were heading to D.C.