WASHINGTON (AP) — The Super Bowl-champion New England Patriots, minus quarterback Tom Brady, are visiting the White House to accept congratulations from President Donald Trump for another NFL title.
Trump’s welcome to the team later Wednesday is coming hours after the news from Massachusetts prisons officials that ex-Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez hanged himself in his prison cell.
Hernandez — who played for the Patriots from 2010 to 2012 — was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction. Days ago, the 27-year-old former tight end was acquitted of a double murder.
A team spokesman says the Patriots are aware of the reports of Hernandez’s death but the club isn’t expected to comment.
Team owner Bob Kraft is a longtime Trump friend.
Quarterback Tom Brady won’t be with the team for their White House visit. In a statement to ESPN, he cited family matters.
“I am so happy and excited that our team is being honored at the White House today. Our team has accomplished something very special that we are all proud of and will be for years to come. Thank you to the President for hosting this honorary celebration and for supporting our team for as long as I can remember. In light of some recent developments, I am unable to attend today’s ceremony, as I am attending to some personal family matters. Hopefully, if we accomplish the goal of winning a championship in the future years, we will back on the South Lawn again soon. Have a great day!”
Some other Patriots players intend to skip the White House visit because they oppose Trump’s presidency.
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