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Devin McCourty and Chris Long explain decision to skip Patriots White House visit in anti-Donald Trump video 04.17.17 at 9:52 am ET
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Chris Long signed with the Eagles this offseason.  (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Chris Long signed with the Eagles this offseason. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Devin McCourty and Chris Long won’t be joining their teammates Wednesday for the Patriots White House ceremony. They elaborated on their decision to skip the proceedings in a video titled, “StandingPats (Be Patriots).” In it, the two players express their opposition to Donald Trump alongside several Patriots fans.

McCourty, who announced immediately after the Super Bowl he wouldn’t be making the trip to Washington D.C., said he believes Trump’s administration fails to embrace diversity.

“For me, it was simple. I don’t believe in excluding other people,” he said. “Right away I knew I wasn’t going, because it was something I thought about before we even won the game.”

Long added that he wants his son to remember he didn’t stand with Trump.

“My son grows up, and I believe the legacy of our President is gonna be what it is,” he said. “I don’t want him to say, ‘Hey Dad, why did you go when you knew the right thing was to not go?’”

In an interview with ESPN’s The Undefeated Friday, McCourty said he doesn’t agree with an array of the Trump administration’s policies. Martellus Bennett, Dont’a Hightower, LeGarrette Blount and Alan Branch aren’t going, either, but not all are abstaining for political reasons.

Read More: Chris Long, Devin McCourty, New England Patriots,
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
Interpreting Bill Belichick 09.13.10 at 2:49 pm ET
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Extracting information from Bill Belichick is kind of like trying to remove an Asian swamp eel out of your butt: Deadly. So, we’€™re going inside the mind of the Patriots coach as he responds to real (dumb) questions following the Week 1 win over Cincinnati ‘€¦

How happy are you for Wes Welker after he worked so hard to get back?
BB: I’m happy for Wes. I’m happy for the whole team. I’m happy for everybody.
BB’€™s brain: How happy am I? That’€™s like asking Clay Aiken, ‘€œHow straight are you?’€ Have you ever been to any of my press conferences? I’€™m never happy.

Can you talk about the young cornerbacks and the game that they played today?
BB: We had our moments. They had theirs. I thought it was a good, competitive battle.
BB’€™s Brain: They played great. They shut down T.O. and limited a pretty loaded passing attack, but like you said, they’€™re young, so I’€™m not going to blow smoke up their a**es. In fact, I’€™m going to rip them a new one in the film room.

Did you get a good look at Brandon Tate’s return for a touchdown?
BB: I think I saw enough. He’s done that before. He’s a good runner, good with the ball in his hands, and it looked like he was close on at least one other one.
BB’€™s Brain: I was too busy braiding Tom Brady‘€™s hair. Of course I got a good look at it. In case you haven’€™t noticed, I have pretty good seats. They let me watch right from the sidelines. I’€™m surprised you haven’€™t seen me. They show me on TV all the time.

Was there a little bit of the element of the unknown on defense coming into this game with so many rookies?
BB: Again, we’ve had over 50 practices, and this is our fifth game. Yeah, I mean, we’ve got a lot to learn. There are a lot of things we can do better and all of that, but at the same time, we’ve been doing those things for a quite a while with the same people.
BB’€™s Brain: News flash: I’€™ve been around football since I was taking dumps in diapers. I’€™ve got a pretty good grasp of what my team is capable of doing. We have these things called practices and preseason games, where we throw an oblong brown object around. I get to attend those, too.

Were you encouraged by how they communicated out there and worked together?
BB: We had our moments. ‘€¦ There were some other things that we need to work on and improve on–no doubt about that. It was far from perfect; it was no Picasso.
BB’€™s Brain: What am I, a preschool teacher? Hold on a second while I go give them all gold stars and pats on the back for communicating and working together.

Not that you didn’t see it in the 50 practices and preseason, but did Devin McCourty show you anything else today, and maybe live up to his first-round draft status?
BB: He’s very professional going about his job and being prepared and playing good technique and really trying to play the responsibilities of the defense. He’s been like that all the way. He’s still got a lot to learn, but he’s done a good job for us.
BB’€™s Brain: I drafted the guy in the first round of the NFL Draft. I’€™m gonna go out on a limb and say that I had an idea he could play football. I watched every down he ever played in college. The only time I could possibly ever see anything new from him would be in the showers, and that’€™s not gonna happen.

What, if anything, did you learn about your team today? You’ve said that going into the season opener you never really know.
BB: We’ll see how it goes next week. We’ve got other challenges: going on the road and playing a different type of team with the Jets. We’ll give it a few games here and see how it goes. We learned a little bit today, but we won’t even be in that situation next week.
BB’€™s Brain: I don’€™t know if I learned anything, but I think Jon Gruden did. Isn’€™t he the one that said we were overrated? There’€™s a reason I’€™ve won three Super Bowls, and there’€™s also a reason that Jon’€™s been out of a job for the last two seasons.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Tate, Devin McCourty, Jon Gruden