In February, Devin McCourty emerged as one of several Patriots players who said he would skip the Super Bowl champions’ visit to the White House. On Friday, the defensive back elaborated on his views, claiming that he didn’t want to have to explain to his young daughter why he shook President Trump’s hand.
McCourty was speaking at a Boston University forum moderated by NFL Network’s Andrea Kremer when the subject of his previous comments about Trump came up. The Patriots are set to visit the White House next week, making them the first team to do so since Barack Obama left office, and McCourty explained why he decided he won’t be there.
“For me, it was just the different things that come out of the White House, or the administration, just didn’t agree or align with some of my views,” McCourty said. “I look at it now, and I’m a new dad. And you start to think about those things, you know, my daughter will be growing up in this country. … How will I explain to her why is there a photo op of me shaking someone’s hand if I didn’t agree, and taught her all the things that were opposite of that?
McCourty added, “I think it’s an individual decision. I think everyone on our team has the right to go or not go. But I think you should do what’s best for you. Do what you think is right.”
The 29-year-old Rutgers product, who was New England’s first-round pick in 2010, cited comments by former teammate Chris Long, who helped the Patriots win at all in February before moving on to the Eagles in free agency. “He has a young son,” McCourty noted, “and he said whatever happens from this administration, he doesn’t want his son to grow up and say, ‘Dad, you knew that was the wrong thing to do at the time. Why did you do it? You knew what was right.’ ”
McCourty was likely referring to Long’s remarks in a video released Friday that showed Patriots fans discussing the team’s comeback victory in the Super Bowl, how they disagree strongly with Trump and how they admire players for taking a stance and not visiting the White House. Long and McCourty also appear in the video, with the latter saying “Right away, I knew I wasn’t going, because it was something I thought about before we even won the game.”
In addition to McCourty and Long, Patriots who have said they either will skip the White House visit or are strongly considering it include running back LeGarrette Blount (a free agent), tight end Martellus Bennett (now with the Packers), linebacker Dont’a Hightower and defensive tackle Alan Branch.
“I just don’t feel welcome in that house, I’m going to just leave it at that,” Blount said shortly after the Super Bowl. Bennett was the first to say he wouldn’t go, telling reporters in the week before the game, “I don’t support the guy that’s in the house.”
Not all the Patriots cited political reasons for skipping the visit. Branch said, “I’m going to hang with family and continue to celebrate until next season starts,” while Hightower said, “Been there, done that,” noting that he had already visited the White House with his NCAA champion Alabama squad.
On the campaign trail, as well as during a pre-inauguration dinner, Trump boasted about his friendships with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft. Brady did not accompany the Patriots to the White House after a Super Bowl win in 2015, but he denied political calculations were involved; he made the trip after championships in 2002, 2004 and 2005, when George W. Bush was in office.
“It really is a great experience,” Brady said in February. “Putting politics aside, it never was a political thing. At least, it never was to me. It meant you won a championship and you got to experience something cool with your team, with your teammates.
“Everyone has their own choice,” he continued. “It’s an offseason. These days are valuable for everybody. You only get so much time with your family and friends, and if people don’t want to go they don’t want to go, and that’s their choice.”
Here is video of McCourty’s comments Friday.