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Patriots player Rob Gronkowski crashes Sean Spicer briefing

21 April 2017

The White House ceremony to honor the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots on Wednesday was highlighted by President Donald Trump singling out seven players in a ceremony on the South Lawn, with rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell later sharing his reaction to being one of them.

For as long as most people can remember, championship sports teams have received invitations to the White House on behalf of whichever US president happened to be in office at the time.

"In light of some recent developments, I am unable to attend today's ceremony, as I am attending to some personal family matters", Brady said in a statement provided to ESPN. Brady did not elaborate on the family issue.

Other Patriots welcomed the visit, including owner Robert Kraft, a friend of Trump's who contributed $1 million to the president's inauguration committee. "He made that the greatest letter". "That's the beauty of what they do, they win as a team", said Trump, who equated some similarity to the team's stirring 25-point comeback against the Atlanta Falcons with his own political victory.

"The Patriots are an incredible organization and this Super Bowl victory was a complete team effort". That's the beauty of what they do. "Just a quick story about the coach". "He's tough, he's smart, and he's got a great heart". The projected range of attendees was thought to be somewhere between 27 (the number of players that showed up for the Patriots visit to the White House in 2005) and 36 (the number that showed up to the White House visit in 2004).

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The Patriots presented Trump with a helmet and a ceremonial jersey, No, 45 with his name imprinted on it.

A quick count of those standing on the stairs suggests that the Patriots' math still doesn't make up for the entire discrepancy.

Gronkowski asked Spicer if he needed help handling the press.

"I think I got this, but thank you ... maybe", Spicer replied.

A team spokesman said the Patriots were aware of situation, but neither the team or Trump publicly addressed the news surrounding Hernandez.

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Hernandez was serving a life sentence for murder but was recently acquitted on separate double murder charges. Should politics be put aside for a White House honoring of a sports team? Shortly before the event, Brady posted a photo of his parents on Instagram, wishing them a happy anniversary.

Tight End Martellus Bennett told reporters after the Super Bowl: "It is what it is". Many noted their differences with the Republican administration.

Devin McCourty told Time Magazine, "Basic reason for me is I don't feel accepted in the White House".

Long, who gained attention earlier this season when he became a vocal supporter of Colin Kaepernick's national anthem protest, said, "My son grows up, and I believe the legacy of our president is going to be what it is, I didn't want him to say, 'Hey, dad, why did you go when you knew the right thing was to not go?'" "This year, we had 34 players attend". That includes Brady in 2015. He was back in Boston spending time with his family.

During the White House ceremony, Trump praised individual players and their overall performance at the Super Bowl, saying that "everybody played a role and everybody played as champions".

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