Star QB Tom Brady to miss National Football League champs' visit to White House

The president accepted gifts from Kraft and Belichick during the ceremony, a personalized No. 45 Patriots jersey and a team helmet matching the ones used during the Super Bowl.

College and professional sports teams routinely visit the White House after winning a championship.

Of the 34 players who were present, only six had played with Hernandez and none of them spoke with reporters after the ceremony.

Earlier this morning, Rob Gronkowski, colloquially known as "Gronk", interupted White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's daily briefing, asking if he needed "some help" fielding questions from the press corps. Hernandez was serving life in prison for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. "But this one, the way we were treated and the opportunities to be in the oval office and meet with the president, sitting inside of the white house, it's been fabulous", the famously taciturn coach said. Brady had a Make America Great Again hat in his locker for much of the 2016 season, and Trump's campaign garnered the support of both Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft.

The narrative has been that many Patriots were not attending to protest President Donald Trump.

Trump's welcome to the team was coming hours after the news from MA prisons officials that ex-Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez hanged himself in his prison cell.

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"That was cool", Spicer said, laughing, after Gronkowski left the room.

Mr Spicer, who was clearly in shock at the National Football League star's sudden appearance, responded with: "I think I got this, but thank you".

Belichick indicated that this trip to the White House was even more special than his previous visits.

"It's distinct honor for us to celebrate what was unequivocally our sweetest championship with a very good friend and someone's who's mental toughness and strength I greatly admire", Kraft said.

Star quarterback Tom Brady missed the event, citing "family matters". Patriots owner Robert Kraft flew on Air Force One with Trump on Sunday and has said the two have been close since his wife Myra died of cancer in 2011.

Former Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett, now with the Green Bay Packers, and cornerback Devin McCourty have previously announced they would skip the White House visit due to political reasons.

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