Patriots say side-by-side photos of 2015 and 2017 White House visits ‘lack context’

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) and team owner Robert Kraft (right) present a team helmet to President Donald Trump on Wednesday. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

There is another crowd size comparison—and subsequent controversy—between President Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Following the New England Patriots’ latest visit to the White House Wednesday, the New York Times compared team pictures with the president from 2015 (during the Obama administration) and 2017 (during the Trump administration) in a tweet that’s been retweeted more than 30,000 times.

However, on Wednesday night, the Patriots responded to the tweet, saying the side-by-side photos “lack context.”

“Facts: In 2015, over 40 football staff were on the stairs. In 2017, they were seated on the South Lawn,” the team’s official account tweeted.

Before that response, the team tweeted a photo with a larger crowd surrounding the president Wednesday.


According to The Boston Globe, 34 Patriots players were at the White House to visit with Trump. In 2015, the number was “around 50.”

According to an update from the Times, the Patriots said, despite the fewer number of players, the team’s total delegation was about the same size.

The lower player turnout for Trump isn’t unique. In 2005, only 27 Patriots showed up according to CSN New England, and 36 attended in 2004, both during the George W. Bush administration. The Patriots’ 2002 visit with Bush, after the team’s first Super Bowl championship, drew “50-plus” players.

Later Wednesday night, the Patriots tweeted side-by-side photos of 2004 and 2017, both years in which the Super Bowl visit was the second in three years.

This year, several Patriots chose not to go for political or personal reasons. Tom Brady was absent for “personal family matters.”