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Patriots players who plan to skip White House trip are delivering ultimate diss to Donald Trump 02.09.17 at 1:46 pm ET
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Trump will likely take every White House snub personally. (Jack Gruber/USA Today Network)

Trump will likely take every White House snub personally. (Jack Gruber/USA Today Network)

In nearly every liberal corner of the country, the Patriots have been castigated for their ties to Donald Trump. Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft are all friends with the President, defending his character at every turn. But it’s also worth noting that several Patriots players are taking a stand against Trump, humiliating him in public fashion.

In the aftermath of New England’s historic comeback win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, five players have come out and said they won’t be going to the White House this year for a presidential photo-op. Martellus Bennett first revealed his plans to snub Trump at Media Night, saying he doesn’t support him. The tight end reiterated his feelings Sunday.

Devin McCourty, who’s one of the Patriots’ team captains, took his protest one step further. In addition to announcing his intended absence, he says he “doesn’t feel welcome” at the White House with Trump in office. LeGarrette Blount expressed similar sentiments Thursday, telling Rich Eisen he doesn’t think he’s welcome there, either.

Chris Long also won’t be in attendance, and Dont’a Hightower plans to sit out the proceedings as well. (Hightower also didn’t go in 2015 when Barack Obama was president.)

Ever since 1865, when President Andrew Johnson hosted the Brooklyn Atlantics and Washington Nationals amateur baseball clubs, sports teams have visited the White House for celebratory ceremonies. Ronald Reagan started making it a regular occurrence in the 1980’s, and today, roughly a dozen clubs stop by each year.

Throughout the last 40 years, plenty of players have skipped the customary White House trip. But it’s rare for them to say it was for political purposes. When Larry Bird didn’t go in 1984, he told a reporter the president knew where to find him. Michael Jordan golfed instead of visiting George H.W. Bush in 1991 and a family commitment reportedly kept Brady from meeting Obama two years ago.

When players do reveal their motivations behind a White House absence, it’s a big story. Former Bruins goalie Tim Thomas garnered headlines in 2012, when he said he wasn’t going because the federal government under Obama was “threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.” Ex-Ravens center Matt Birk, a pro-life advocate, made news when he declined to show up in 2013 because of Obama’s support for Planned Parenthood.

With Trump in office, a record-setting number of athletes are expected to forego the White House tradition. For a man who’s obsessed with appearance and aesthetics, that would be an embarrassing blow.

Throughout the entirety of his campaign, Trump flaunted his apparent reverence for sports stars. He campaigned with Bobby Knight in Indiana, promised to present an “Athlete’s Night” at the Republican National Convention and frequently mentioned his three good friends –– Brady, Belichick and Kraft. With that in mind, it only makes sense for Trump’s beloved Patriots to be the first professional team that visits him in office.

Except, leading up to the event, the story will likely be about the players who aren’t going. This week, running back James White said he was still considering a White House boycott, and several of his teammates probably feel similarly. When the Patriots go to the White House this spring, it’s nearly certain that more than five players will opt to stay behind.

Every other person who’s ever sat in the Oval Office probably didn’t spend any time stewing over athletes who didn’t want to come shake their hand during a ceremonial event. But Trump is different. This is a man who on the first full day of his presidency, sent out his press secretary to lie about his inauguration crowd size. He tweets constantly about Saturday Night Live and is obsessed with media coverage. Trump’s apparent insecurities run so deep, that he reportedly brags about the breadth of his electoral college win in phone calls with foreign leaders.

Given his tweet calling millions of protesters “anarchists” and “thugs,” Trump doesn’t appear to respect the right of free speech. He seems to view every sign of dissent, such as a federal judge temporarily halting his possibly unconstitutional travel ban, as a personal slight. An athlete refusing to visit the White House to meet the president –– an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity –– is the ultimate diss.

Nearly 30 years ago, Graydon Carter, now the editor of Vanity Fair, called Trump in Spy Magazine a “short-fingered vulgarian.” To this day, Carter says he occasionally receives photographs from Trump, in which the President circles his fingers in gold sharpie to showcase their length.

Whenever Trump looks at pictures of the Patriots’ visit, he’ll be forced to remember that numerous members of his favorite football team didn’t want to meet him. And by all accounts, it will bother him greatly.

Brady and Co. have long been a source of pride for Trump. But for the next couple of months, as the anticipation for their White House visit builds, they’ll be a thorn in his side.

This post was updated to include LeGarrette Blount’s comments, which were made after the article was published.  

Read More: Chris Long, Devin McCourty, Donald Trump, Martellus Bennett
Browns LT Joe Thomas calls out Roger Goodell for leaving stage ‘like a rat’ during Patriots trophy presentation 02.09.17 at 10:17 am ET
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Goodell handed the Lombardi trophy to Kraft Sunday. (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Roger Goodell handed the Lombardi trophy to Robert Kraft Sunday. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Browns left tackle Joe Thomas is unimpressed with the way Roger Goodell carried himself during the Lombardi trophy presentation Sunday.

Moments after the Patriots completed their historic 25-point comeback win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, Goodell took the microphone and was greeted with an onslaught of boos. The commissioner then handed the trophy over to Patriots owner Robert Kraft and quickly exited the stage. Thomas says that was cowardly.

“I especially enjoyed how over-eager Roger was to smile at all the Patriots and give them a big handshake, but then as soon as he gave them the trophy he scurried off the stage like a rat,” he told Pro Football Talk. “It was awesome.”

Thomas, who’s made the Pro Bowl in all 10 seasons of his career and has never missed a snap, was one of the Patriots’ staunchest defenders during the Deflategate saga. The left tackle called it a “witch hunt” and also expressed disappointment last summer that Tom Brady didn’t continue his legal fight. Prior to Super Bowl LI, Thomas said he was rooting for the Patriots, because he wanted Goodell to receive some comeuppance.

During the Super Bowl MVP press conference Monday, Goodell was seated next to Bill Belichick while Brady gave his acceptance speech. When Belichick took the podium, however, Brady didn’t take his place next to commissioner. Instead, he left.

Goodell may have acted cordially towards the Patriots this weekend, but it’s apparent the stench of Deflategate still lingers over him.

Read More: Deflategate, joe thomas, New England Patriots, Roger Goodell
The Root’s senior editor on Kirk & Callahan: Tom Brady might be a racist 02.08.17 at 11:24 am ET
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In a recent column, The Root’s senior editor Stephen A. Crockett Jr. called the Patriots “racist-adjacent” because Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft are friends with Donald Trump. He defended his words in an appearance with Kirk & Callahan Wednesday.

Though Crockett said the article was satirical, he still believes Brady should be criticized for his ties to the President.

Brady continues to catch heat for his relationship with Trump. (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today)

Brady continues to catch heat for his relationship with Trump. (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today)

“I don’t know if you need to back off, but I feel like there needs to be something said here,” he explained. “If Brady and Trump are friends and then had a private friendship prior to this –– as he continues to escalate, as he runs for president and the White House, as he has proven himself in the first three weeks to be absolutely ridiculous. At some point, you as a public figure have to make a stand or you are agreeing with all of the policies that go along with it. I don’t see how that doesn’t work.”

When pressed about whether he thinks Brady is a racist, Crockett said it’s a possibility.

“I absolutely believe that you are the company you keep,” he said. “At the end of the day, if you are in support of a person who feels this way –– we’re not just talking about me and my friend at The Root feel this way. You’re in support of a person who’s actually changing policy and completely banning seven countries that are populated by Muslims from coming into this country. That’s where we are. I don’t know Tom Brady’s personal beliefs. I know he goes to a job that also employs black people. I don’t know if he has a friendship with them. I know that racists work in America all day. I don’t know where they stand.”

 

TO LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE STEPHEN A. CROCKETT Jr. INTERVIEW, CLICK HERE

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,
Deflategate is now one big joke 02.07.17 at 5:04 pm ET
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“Yankees suck!” chants still ring throughout Fenway Park, but the passion is largely gone. After going 13 years between playoff series, the rivalry is on life support. Right now, hating the Yankees is just a part of Red Sox lore –– like the Curse of the Bambino or eating a Fenway Frank.

Deflategate is heading in that direction.

Andrew Belsky (left) says the Patriots parade was "one last hurrah" of Goodell hate. (Photo by WEEI.com)

Andrew Belsky (left) says the Patriots parade was “one last hurrah” of Goodell hate. (Photo by WEEI.com)

At the Patriots parade Tuesday, an estimated 1 million people took to the streets of Boston on a frigid and damp day, cheering on the five-time Super Bowl champions. It seemed like most of them came with anti-Roger Goodell paraphernalia, from shirts that say the commissioner sits when he pees to signs that depict him with an enlarged, Pinochio-like nose. A group of kids from Needham even took the day off from school to stand on Boylston Street and hurl epithets towards him.

“F*** Goodell!,” they screamed, while their chaperon looked on proudly.

In February 2017, more than two years after the start of the Deflategate saga, hating Goodell is a rite of passage for Patriots fans. It’s unlikely the high schoolers who stormed the city wearing timberland boots, sweatpants and Tom Brady jerseys –– an apparent fashion staple of Patriots Nation –– have read one page of Ted Wells’ report. But they know Brady got hosed, and that’s good enough for them.

In the lead-up to Super Bowl LI, a lot of attention was paid to how the Patriots would receive Goodell during the Lombardi Trophy presentation. But following a historic 25-point comeback, the ceremony became an afterthought. Goodell was booed mercilessly while he handed Robert Kraft the trophy, but the Patriots owner bit his tongue –– mostly.

“Two years ago, we won our fourth Super Bowl down in Arizona,” he said. “I told our fans that was the sweetest one of all. But a lot has transpired during the last two years. I don’t think that needs any explanation.”

At the Super Bowl MVP ceremony Monday, Goodell praised Brady, calling him “maybe one of the greatest players of all-time.” The two took a picture together and then Brady fielded questions. There wasn’t any palpable tension, or even a hint of animosity.

That doesn’t mean the Patriots haven’t taken part in some good old fashioned trolling over the last couple of days. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia wore a Goodell clown shirt when he walked off the team plane in Boston Monday and Danny Amendola sported a “Fire Goodell” hat at the parade. There’s also Brady’s Shields MRI commercial, which concludes with him telling a nurse “Roger that” after she says she’s going to find a locker to accommodate his five Super Bowl rings.

But on the whole, the barbs seem more playful than malicious. When you win, it’s a lot easier to laugh.

Josh Quackenbush praised Brady and took a shot at Goodell in the same sign. (Photo by WEEI.com)

Josh Quackenbush praised Brady and took a shot at Goodell in the same sign. (Photo by WEEI.com)

“Yeah, I’m sick of hearing about it,” said Brandon McCullock, whose friend was brandishing a Brady GOAT sign with the words, “Roger that,” below it. “I think winning was a good enough f— you to the league. I’m tired of talking about it.”

Boston Marathon bombing hero Carlos Arredondo also said he is ready to turn the page on deflated footballs.

“Ready to move on. It’s time for the next season,” he said.

The spirit of Deflategate may never die. “Fire Goodell” merchandise will likely be omnipresent around Gillette Stadium next season and fans will probably look to deride the commissioner whenever they can. It’s fun to root against a villain.

But the venom is gone. Much like when the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit and bested the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, the Patriots have vanquished their antagonist. Goodell is no longer a threat. He’s a caricature.

“It’s over. Tomorrow is a new day,” said Andrew Belsky, while standing next to his homemade sign that shows Goodell with an outstretched nose. “This is one last hurrah.”

Read More: Deflategate, New England Patriots,
Jacoby Brissett partied in Tom Brady’s jersey at Patriots parade 02.07.17 at 3:04 pm ET
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Jacoby Brissett, like every Patriots backup quarterback, lives in Tom Brady’s shadow. So much so, apparently, that he decided to wear Brady’s jersey during the Patriots parade Tuesday.

Brissett, 24, played a small role in the Patriots’ Super Bowl run. While Brady was serving his four-game Deflategate suspension, he started two contests and defeated the Texans in Week 3. Jimmy Garoppolo went 2-0 in the two games he played.

As an apparent thanks for their contributions, Brady called Brissett and Garoppolo his “wolf pack” in an Instagram post after the AFC championship game. In a reference to the 2009 comedy, “The Hangover,” Brady said the three QB’s are “blood brothers.”

Read More: New England Patriots, Tom Brady,
Rob Gronkowski went psychotic at Patriots parade 02.07.17 at 2:46 pm ET
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Despite missing eight games this season and the entirety of the playoffs, Rob Gronkowski was the star of the Patriots parade Tuesday.

Gronkowski flaunted Mayor Marty Walsh’s drinking ban, guzzling down Bud Lights and spiking them to the ground. It was a repeat of his performance two years ago, which resulted in Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio calling for him to be cited for public alcohol consumption.

Gronkowski was the life of the party at the Patriots parade. (Photo by WEEI.com)

Gronkowski was the life of the party at the Patriots parade. (Photo by WEEI.com)

Never able to turn down a good time, Gronkowski also took part LeGarrette Blount’s dance party on the top of his duck boat.

While dancing and drinking is normal behavior for Gronk, things got weird while the Patriots were approaching City Hall Plaza. The tight end grabbed a Gronk Doll and started, well, you can fill in the rest.

When the duck boats stopped, Gronkowski took off his shirt and started partying with fans in freezing temperatures. Or, in other words, normalcy returned.

“To tell you the truth, I wasn’t even planning on partying,” he said to reporters. “But the fans were asking for it, and I’m giving the fans what they wanted to get. So I partied for the fans. That’s how we do it. That’s how we roll.”

Read More: New England Patriots, rob gronkowski,
Bill Belichick tried to start a cheer at Patriots parade and nobody cheered back 02.07.17 at 2:14 pm ET
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Starting an impromptu chant at a championship rally is a futile endeavor –– just ask Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. But that didn’t stop Bill Belichick from trying at the Patriots parade Tuesday.

In a rare display of charisma, Belichick took the microphone and started speaking to the fans gathered at City Hall Plaza. After thanking the crowd for coming out, he started a cheer:

“No days off!,” he shouted, to thousands of people who took the day off.

The Patriots’ “Do your job” mantra is synonymous to the franchise. It looks like “No days off” has a long way to go before it reaches those levels.

Read More: Bill Belichick, New England Patriots,
Patriots ignore Mayor Marty Walsh’s parade drinking ban 02.07.17 at 1:25 pm ET
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Mayor Marty Walsh said no public drinking would be tolerated at the Patriots parade. The Super Bowl champions ignored him.

As the duck boats made their way down Boylston Street Tuesday, linebacker Rob Ninkovich was chugging Grey Goose straight from the bottle. Defensive end Chris Long joined him in the debauchery, slamming down some Natty Light.

Not be outdone, Rob Gronkowski caught a Bud Light from somebody in the crowd and guzzled it down in roughly three seconds. Afterwards, the empty can fell victim to the Gronk Spike.

Two years ago, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio wondered if Gronkowski would be cited for public consumption of alcohol after he was seen drinking throughout the parade. City officials rightfully let his antics slide, and despite the Mayor’s strong words, the same thing will likely happen this time around. Super Bowl champions are allowed to break the rules –– at least for one day.

Read More: Mayor Marty Walsh, New England Patriots, rob gronkowski,
ESPN Radio host: Tom Brady ‘should be ashamed of himself’ for not handing James White MVP Trophy 02.06.17 at 5:08 pm ET
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It’s difficult to criticize Tom Brady following his performance in the Patriots’ historic comeback win over the Falcons in Super Bow LI. But one ESPN Radio personality found a way.

Dan Le Batard’s sidekick, Jon “Stugotz” Weiner, went on a rant Monday about Brady winning his fourth Super Bowl MVP. He says James White, who scored the game-tying and game-winning touchdowns while leading all receivers with 14 catches and 114 yards, deserved the trophy. In Weiner’s mind, it was selfish of Brady to take the trophy for himself.

Brady threw for the most yards in Super Bowl history Sunday. (Photo by Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

Brady threw for the most yards in Super Bowl history Sunday. (Photo by Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports)

“I cannot believe that Brady won the MVP, because certainly out of all of his legendary Super Bowl performances, this was not one of his best,” said Le Batard’s underling. “I mean, he was good, I just question whether or not he was great. First three quarters –– lousy. Fourth quarter –– he was Tom Brady. Legend. Classic. Brought his team back. But really, the best player on that field last night for the Patriots or the Falcons was James White.

“He did all of the scoring. He had, I don’t know, 12 catches. How Tom Brady did not hand James White the MVP after the game is beyond me. He should be ashamed of himself. You want to be a leader if you’re Tom Brady? And you want to be the guy that does all of the right things? You’ve done enough winning, you’ve got enough hardware. You’ve got five rings, you’ve got three Super Bowl MVP trophies. Now you’ve got four, one of which you don’t deserve. You should’ve handed that thing to James White. That’s doing the right thing. That’s being a leader. That’s being classy.”

Last month, Le Batard implied the Patriots prefer white wide receivers. When faced with criticism, he cowered and said it was a joke. We’ll see if his minion stands by his words.

Read More: New England Patriots,
White nationalists Richard Spencer and David Duke celebrate Patriots’ Super Bowl win 02.06.17 at 4:30 pm ET
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Two leaders of the white nationalist movement were celebrating the Patriots’ historic Super Bowl comeback victory Sunday night.

In the closing moments of New England’s 34-28 win over the Falcons, Richard Spencer, president of the white supremacist think tank National Policy Institute, tweeted out his congratulations to the NFL’s “whitest team.” The last time Spencer appeared to be this excited, he was giving the Nazi salute and shouting “Heil Trump!” at a conference in Washington D.C. one week after the election.

Spencer, who was born in Boston and grew up in Dallas, spent most of the evening gloating in the aftermath of the Patriots’ big win.

“For the white race, it’s never over,” he tweeted alongside a GIF of Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen kissing. When a follower mentioned Bundchen is an immigrant from Brazil, Spencer brushed the correction aside.

Hailing Brady as an “Aryan Avatar,” Spencer proclaimed the Patriots “won bigly for Trump, the Alt-Right and America.” President Donald Trump was watching his pals in Super Bowl LI, but he bailed on them in the third quarter.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Spencer, who was punched in the face by a protester at Trump’s inauguration last month. It seems as if the Patriots win helped ease the pain of his embarrassment.

Neo-Nazi David Duke wasn’t as bombastic as Spencer, but he also congratulated Brady on the win.

“Can White people celebrate that the greatest football player in NFL history is White and an open Trump supporter?,” he tweeted.

One has to wonder how Spencer and Duke reacted when linebacker Dont’a Hightower forced Matt Ryan to fumble in the fourth quarter or when James White scored the game-tying and game-winning touchdowns. Their performances kind of contradict the white supremacy narrative.

Read More: New England Patriots,