Two New England Patriots will not accept White House invite

Posted at 5:42 PM, Feb 07, 2017

What Devin McCourty and Martellus Bennett are doing is not unprecedented, but in an era of athletes speaking out on social and political issues, has become noteworthy. 

McCourty and Bennett, members of the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots, both have announced they would not accept an invitation to the White House if offered by President Donald Trump. It is customary for champions of major professional and collegiate sports franchises to get a White House invitation. 

McCourty told TIME Magazine via text message that he would not accept the invitation. 

"I'm not going to the White House," McCourty told TIME. "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." 

Bennett told a group of reporters, including one from NBC News, about his intention to balk on an invite. 

Both players have joined a group of NFL players that have kneeled or held a fist in the air during the pregame singing of the Star Spangled Banner. 

Bennett has also been quite outspoken on social media about social issues. 

McCourty and Bennett join a list of athletes who would not participate in official White House visits. A notable absence during the Patriots' 2015 visit to the Barack Obama White House was Tom Brady.

Another famous Boston athlete Tim Thomas also did not participate in an Obama White House ceremony after the Bruins won the 2013 Stanley Cup. Thomas said he believed Obama's government was taking away "rights, liberties and properties" from citizens.

The views of McCourty and Bennett are in stark contrast from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and owner Robert Kraft. Although Brady refrained from commenting on the election in 2016, he has been known to play golf with Trump. Kraft has been more outspoken than Brady about his support and friendship with Trump, with Kraft making a visit to Trump Tower a week after Trump was elected.