WASHINGTON (CNN) — In photos posted to social media Wednesday, the New England Patriots’ turnout at the White House this year seemed to be noticeably smaller than in 2015, when the team last visited the executive residence.
A side-by-side comparison of the teams on both occasions showed a visibly smaller contingent to visit President Donald Trump than former President Barack Obama — a difference first noted by The New York Times.
Though the White House has yet to comment on Wednesday’s turnout at the event to honor the Super Bowl champions, The Boston Globe reported that just 34 players attended the event. There are 64 players listed on the Patriots’ active team roster, though it’s unclear how many were invited.
Among the athletes not in attendance was quarterback Tom Brady, who announced Wednesday morning that he would be absent for “family matters.”
Also missing were defensive end Chris Long, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive tackle Alan Branch, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, defensive back Devin McCourty and tight end Martellus Bennett, some of whom explicitly cited their opposition to Trump as their reason for not attending.
Though many of the Super Bowl champions also skipped the White House visit in past years (including Brady, who was not in attendance in 2015), the Patriots’ earlier connections to Trump meant particular scrutiny this time around.
The President, who identifies as a friend and fan of Brady’s, also has ties to Patriots owner Bob Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick.
Just one day before the general election, Trump announced that Brady and Belichick supported his campaign — though Brady’s wife Gisele Bundchen later denied that he was a supporter.