WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed the National Football League's New England Patriots to the White House Wednesday to celebrate their 2017 Super Bowl victory.
The president congratulated the Patriots on their stunning 25-point comeback in February's championship game to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime for the franchise's fifth Super Bowl victory.
Trump, a close friend of Patriots' owner Robert Kraft, compared New England's historic win to his surprising victory in last November's presidential election.
“With your backs against the wall and the pundits, good ole pundits, boy are they wrong a lot aren't they?” said Trump. “Saying you couldn't do it, the game was over, you pulled off the greatest Super Bowl come back of all time, one of the greatest come backs of all time, but the greatest Super Bowl come back of all time, and that was just special.”
Gronkowski interrupts Spicer
Moments before the ceremony, Patriots star receiver Rob Gronkowski playfully interrupted the press briefing held by White House spokesman Sean Spicer.
“I think I got this,” a surprised Spicer told Gronkowski, after the receiver stuck his head through the door of the press room and asked Spicer if he needed help.
“All right, I'll let you go,” the fun-loving Gronkowski said as the room erupted in laughter.
College and professional sports teams routinely visit the White House after winning a championship. But several New England players did not attend Wednesday's ceremony, many of them expressing opposition to Trump on political grounds.
Brady misses ceremony
Also missing was Tom Brady, the Patriots future Hall-of-Fame quarterback, who told the White House in advance he was dealing with a “personal family matter.”
The visit came just hours after the death of former Patriots' receiver Aaron Hernandez, who hanged himself in his cell in a Massachusetts prison.
The 27-year-old Hernandez was serving a life sentence for the 2013 shooting death of a friend. He was acquitted just last week in the deaths of two other men the year before.