HOUSTON — The New England Patriots will head to the White House as Super Bowl champions without at least one player: tight end Martellus Bennett.
After the Patriots’ 34-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, Bennett reaffirmed his plans to skip the customary trip to the White House because of his opposition to President Trump.
The U.S. president by tradition hosts championship teams during visits to the White House.
Bennett, 29, also said he’s not concerned about potentially upsetting Patriots owner Bob Kraft. Kraft, along with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, have been friendly with Trump over the years.
"I’m not worried about it at all," said Bennett, who just completed his eighth year in the NFL. "It’s still like my beliefs, I think they (the Patriots) believe whatever I want to do the believe in that."
Bennett said his teammates have engaged in political discussions, but that differing views did not threaten to undermine the Patriots team chemistry during their Super Bowl run.
"We all have our beliefs," he said. "The thing is, we accept people for who they are. And that’s the biggest thing about what this country is really about. I don’t really care what you believe. It’s not going to separate me from accepting you for who you are."
Asked to elaborate on his decision to skip the impending White House trip, Bennett said people should simply check his Twitter account. His recent tweets included:
"America was built on inclusiveness not exclusiveness."
"Be the change you wish to see in the world. If you want a world full of hate be hateful. If you want a world full of love be loving."
But he said he wanted to focus on football after winning a Super Bowl ring in his hometown of Houston.
"It’s like waking up and eating cake for breakfast," he said.