Patriots respond to speculation that delegation was smaller at White House this year

President Trump honors the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots at the White House in Washington on April 19, 2017. 

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Another crowd size controversy at the White House?

President Trump welcomed the New England Patriots to the White House on Wednesday to celebrate their Super Bowl win. The New York Times tweeted a photo comparing the photo of the Patriots Wednesday meeting at the White House and when the team met President Obama in 2015. It appears there are more people in 2015 than on Wednesday.

According to The New York Times, 34 team members attended the ceremony at Wednesday, compared to “about 50” who attended in 2015. But the team said the overall delegation, which includes team staff, was about the same. 

The New England Patriots responded by tweeting that the photos “lack context,” writing that in 2015, 40 football staff members stood on the steps and this year, those staff members sat on the lawn.

The Patriots also tweeted out a photo of the staff on the stairs. 

The New York Times tweeted an update, writing that the total delegation was roughly the same.

Despite the Patriots’ response, The New York Times received more than 30,000 retweets within 7 hours. At 10 p.m., President Trump tweeted it was a “great honor” to have the Patriots at the White House. While it’s unclear if it was related to the controversy (or if Mr. Trump even knew about it), it threw more fuel on the online fire, with Twitter users responding with the photos of the two years.

There were a number of high-profile players who did not attend Wednesday’s ceremony. Tom Brady, who called Mr. Trump “a good friend” in 2015, did not attend, citing “personal family matters.” Mr. Trump, who said that Brady said he voted for Mr. Trump, did not mention Brady on Wednesday. 

Players Devin McCourty, Martellus Bennett, Chris Long, Dont’a Hightower and LeGarrette Blount all decided to skip the South Lawn visit for political differences. Additionally, Alan Branch  said he would not attend due to Trump’s comments about women on the “Access Hollywood” tape.

The Patriots, who have dominated the Super Bowl since their first win in 2002, have had fluctuating numbers of players attending since that year, when over 50 players attended.