After winning their fifth Super Bowl, the Patriots once again made the news. This time because Donald Trump controversy split the team.
The Patriots were nicknamed “Team Trump” on social media after quarterback Tom Brady and the team owner Robert Kraft discussed their personal friendships with President Donald Trump before Trump’s White House bid.
However, at least four players have refused to visit Trump in the White House, citing Trump’s recent political actions, especially the recent travel ban, as the reason.
“My initial opinions were, ‘good for them for protesting,’” Michael Loeffler, John Brown University student and football fan, said. “Something I really appreciate is when anybody takes a stand in a very peaceful act.”
So far, Martellus Bennett, Devin McCourty, Chris Long and LeGarrette Blount have all declined the invitation to the white house.
“I will not be going to the White House. I don’t feel welcome in that house. I’ll leave it at that,” Blount tweeted. The players choosing not to travel to the White House received varied feedback over social media for their decision, some tweeting in support of the athletes, others criticizing their decision.
Phillip Todd, chairman of the College Republicans at JBU, sees no problem with the players’ protest.
“I think it’s a very classy way of protesting,” Todd said. “While I disagree with them, I very much so, in my support of free speech and right to protest, support their right to do so.”
“Every year somebody doesn’t show up,” Loeffler said. “These are people just like everybody else.” Tom Brady chose not to visit the White House in 2015 when Obama was president.
Allan Aguilar, president of the Young Democrats Club at JBU, does not think the players’ decision to skip the trip to the White House should be a political controversy.
“It’s not inciting any violence; it’s not hurting anyone,” Aguilar said. “It would be unfair to tell celebrities or individuals who carry a lot of influence to keep their mouth shut.”
While the political controversy within the Patriots team is not unusual, some wonder if Brady’s and Kraft’s friendships with the president will cause a rift between teammates.
“A team has a way of transcending different barriers,” Todd said. “Obviously it didn’t have too much of an effect on the team in this last season.”
Todd said he believes the Patriots’ performance will not be affected by the controversial political opinions on the team. Indeed, the Patriots were 14-2 during the 2016 season and won their fifth Super Bowl title with an audience of 111.2 million, according to Statista.
Loeffler agreed the political differences within the Patriots team do not seem to cause tension on the field. He cited Brady’s leadership as the main reason the Patriots compete so well as a team.
“At the end of the day, yeah you know they might disagree, but it’s about playing football,” Loeffler said.
Brady confirmed Loeffler’s belief.
“Putting politics aside, it never was a political thing,” Brady said. “It meant you won a championship and you got to experience something cool with your team – with your teammates.”