WASHINGTON, D.C. -- All things considered, the Patriots had a good crowd show up to Wednesday's White House visit.
The team invited 68 players -- including all 53 players on the active roster at the end of the season, practice-squad members and those on injured reserve -- and exactly half showed up to celebrate the team's Super Bowl victory with president Donald Trump.
This was on the high end of what the club was expecting. The projected range of attendees was thought to be somewhere between 27 (the number of players that showed up for the Patriots visit to the White House in 2005) and 36 (the number that showed up to the White House visit in 2004). As was the case in those years, the thinking was that the number of players present was reduced in part because for some who were invited the novelty of going to the White House wasn't the same as it was two years ago.
Of course, there are players who opted not to show due to their feeling about Trump and his administration. Devin McCourty, Alan Branch, Chris Long, Martellus Bennett and LeGarrette Blount all have been outspoken about the fact that they did not feel as though it was appropriate for them to take part in the festivities because of the man occupying the nation's highest office.
There were other reasons for player absences, however. Run-of-the mill reasons. One player said he would not be able to make it earlier this week because he had the dates mixed up and couldn't miss a family birthday party. Another had a surgery scheduled for his dog.
Tom Brady's absence was the most notable. He had a personal family matter to attend to, he told ESPN's Mike Reiss. The only players no longer on the Patriots to make the trip were Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo -- both now members of the Colts.
A member of the jury that acquitted Aaron Hernandez of double-murder said jurors were invited to Hernandez’s funeral by defense attorney Jose Baez, The Boston Herald reported.
Hernandez, the former Patriots tight end who was already serving a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd when he was acquitted in the 2012 double-murder in Boston, killed himself in his prison cell last week. His funeral was in his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut on Monday.
One juror told the Herald that Baez offered to pay for bus to have jury attend funeral.
More from the Herald report:
“I was invited, but I decided ultimately not to go,” said Robert Monroe, one of 12 jurors who on April 14 acquitted Hernandez of the murders of Cape Verdean immigrants Daniel de Abreu, 29, and Safiro Furtado, 28. Both were living in Dorchester.
“I received a message, if any of the jurors wanted to go to the Aaron Hernandez funeral, that [Hernandez’s attorney] Jose Baez would rent a bus to get us back and forth,” Monroe told the Herald today.
The Patriots’ offseason activity with regard to running backs essentially ended LeGarrette Blount’s time in New England. Now he’s looking for his next team.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, there is “mutual interest” between Blount and the Giants.
Blount played last season on a one-year, $1 million in New England. Though he is coming off a career-best 1,161 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, the 30-year-old’s spot on New England’s roster disappeared with the team’s acquisitions of Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee.
The Patriots officially acquired Gillislee on a two-year contract Monday when the Bills declined to match New England’s contract offer to the restricted free agent. By declining to match, the Bills received a fifth-round pick from the Pats for the 26-year-old.