Patriots star Rob Gronkowski crashes White House press briefing

President Donald Trump celebrated the New England Patriots at the White House on Wednesday, but the Super Bowl winners were missing their star quarterback, with Brady skipping the ceremony.

Though numerous Super Bowl champions also skipped the White House visit in past years (including Brady, who was not in attendance in 2015), the Patriots' earlier connections to Trump meant particular scrutiny this time around.

It said, "I am so happy and excited that our team is being honored at the White House today".

Quarterback Tom Brady did not attend the visit, citing "personal family matters" as the reason for his absence.

Brady's mother has been battling cancer since before the Super Bowl LI.

As we can see above, a similar pattern emerged in 2004 and 2005 when substantially fewer players showed up to the White House as compared to the 2002 visit following the franchise's first Super Bowl win.

Other members of the Patriots had made it clear they will skip Wednesday's visit over disagreements with President Trump. Hernandez hanged himself in his prison cell while serving a life sentence for the 2011 murder of Odin Lloyd, just days after he was acquitted in a separate double murder case.

Gronkowski asked Spicer if he needed help handling the press.

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Patriots owner Robert K. Kraft contributed $1 million to Trump's inauguration, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

"Thank you to the President for hosting this honorary celebration and for supporting our team for as long as I can remember", Tom Brady said in a statement.

Though the White House has yet to comment on Wednesday's turnout at the event to honor the Super Bowl champions, The Boston Globe reported that just 34 players attended the event.

The former National Football League star was serving a life sentence for murder.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick confirmed he wrote Trump a letter of support before the election, but said it was personal and not politically driven.

Kraft called the president "a very good friend of mine for over 25 years", and "as mentally tough and hard-working as anybody I know".

"I don't believe in excluding other people", free safety Devin McCourty explained in a video released at the end of last week.

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