UPDATE: After Bennett announced that he wasn't going, Patriots safety Devin McCourty said that he wasn't going to go to the White House either.
McCourty said that he does not think he would be "accepted" at the White House due to President Trump's " strong opinions and prejudices."
"Basic reason for me is I don't feel accepted in the White House. With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won't."
On Sunday, the New England Patriots stunned the world and overcame the largest deficit in Super Bowl history to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime. Besides winning one for the thumb, the Patriots also get to visit the White House to be congratulated by President Donald Trump.
Alas, at least one person on the Patriots probably won't be making the trek to Washington. Tight end Martellus Bennett told reporters that he was not planning on attending because he does not like Donald Trump.
"I haven't thought about it. I am not going to go," the New England Patriots tight end said. "I can elaborate later on in life; right now I am just trying to enjoy this ... People know how I feel about it, just follow me on Twitter."
Bennett has not yet commented on Twitter.
Although team owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, and QB Tom Brady are all either friends with or supports of Donald Trump, Bennett said that politics is not discussed in their locker room. (Editor's note: Good!) Bennett said that he did not fear any kind of blowback for skipping the White House visit.
In 2015, the Patriots visited the White House in late April. Notably, Brady did not attend, citing a family commitment--but was later spotted at Gillette Stadium, throwing this claim into question.
Skipping the White House visit as a political statement is nothing new. In 2012, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (incidentally, he was one of two American on their roster) did not visit the White House after winning the Stanley Cup because he was not a fan of Barack Obama. In 2013, Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk boycotted the White House visit because Obama had praised Planned Parenthood. Both were heavily criticized for this decision.
Bennett is free to do whatever he wants. If he doesn't want to meet Trump, he doesn't have to go. This is a free country--nobody is being forced to do anything. However, it's notable that Birk and Thomas were both criticized for skipping the visit--Thomas was called selfish and Birk was side-eyed and fact-checked. It's unlikely that Bennett will face much backlash from the mainstream media, and it's a shame that athletes who were opposed to Obama didn't get this same treatment.