Patriots meet Trump without Tom Brady, some teammates

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As the New York Times noted, the attendance was frankly sort of sad compared to 2015, when then-President Barack Obama hosted a crowd of Super Bowl-winning Patriots players and staff more than twice the size, stretching into the stairs on either side of him.

Kraft presented Trump with a personalized jersey and Belichick gave Trump a personalized helmet.

Later Wednesday night, the Patriots tweeted side-by-side photos of 2004 and 2017, both years in which the Super Bowl visit was the second in three years.

Trump recognized several Patriots players for their efforts during the 25-point comeback, including Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell, Julian Edelman and Nate Ebner.

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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".

Quarterback Tom Brady is not accompanying his team on their visit to the White House Wednesday afternoon due to "personal family matters", according to ESPN reporter Mike Reiss.

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Linebacker Dont'a Hightower, a former Alabama standout who also skipped the Patriots' previous trip to Washington, D.C., had said he'd had enough White House visits, having gone twice after the Crimson Tide won BCS national championships.

"I am stunned - stunned - that they're going to go ahead with the ceremony today", Ley said on SportsCenter.

While other players had suggested political reasons for not attending, quarterback Tom Brady, the game's most valuable player, said family matters kept him away. Thank you to the President for hosting this honorary celebration and for supporting our team for as long as I can remember. Hernandez was in the midst of serving life in prison for the convicted murder of Odin Lloyd.

He jokingly asked Spicer whether he needed any help, drawing laughs.

One player made an impromptu appearance at a White House press before the official ceremony.

Blount-who is now an unsigned free agent-and McCourty both previously said in interviews they wouldn't take part in the festivities because they didn't feel welcome at the White House. "And in light of everything we've talked about, they will forever be linked".