Trump Welcomes New England Patriots to White House

President Donald Trump shakes hands with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House which honored the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, April 19, 2017. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

President Donald Trump welcomed the New England Patriots to the White House this afternoon, praising coach Bill Belichick and the team’s owner Bob Kraft along with many of the players who were present.

Kraft said it was the team’s “distinct honor” to celebrate the victory “with a very good friend.”

One player who was notably absent was Tom Brady, the team’s star quarterback and Trump’s longtime friend.

Brady released a statement this morning, citing “recent developments” and “personal family matters” as the reason for his absence.

“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!” he said in the statement.

This isn’t the first time the four-time Super Bowl MVP skipped a visit to the White House. He said a “family commitment” prevented him from attending the 2015 ceremony held by then-President Obama.

Today’s visit also comes as the team grapples with the news that former Patriots star Aaron Hernandez was found dead in jail this morning.

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SOURCE: ABC News, Benjamin Bell and Meghan Keneally