Martellus Bennett skips White House visit, spends day with comedian Chelsea Handler instead
After saying he wouldn’t make the trip to meet President Donald Trump, former Patriots tight end stuck to his word
What would Martellus Bennett do on the day the New England Patriots visited President Donald Trump at the White House?
That’s been the question since early February, when the Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI and Bennett said after the victory that he would not partake in the tradition of championship-winning teams meeting with the president.
“I’m not gonna go,” he told media the night of the Super Bowl. “ … It is what it is. People know how I feel about it. … ”
Bennett’s assertion was no surprise, given that a reporter had asked him during pre-Super Bowl media day whether he planned to make the trip to Washington, D.C.
“I don’t know. I’ve got to win a Super Bowl. But most likely no,” he said before the game. And why not? the reporter followed up. “I don’t support the guy that’s in the house,” Bennett responded.
On Wednesday, the Patriots became the first team to visit 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. since Trump took office. But true to his word, Bennett, now a tight end for the Green Bay Packers, did not attend the celebration.
Bennett spent the day in Los Angeles as a guest on Chelsea, the Netflix talk show hosted by comedian Chelsea Handler, to speak on the importance of making a positive impact in today’s society.
Before taping the episode, which will air Friday on Netflix, Handler and Bennett hosted a Facebook Live, during which they shot the breeze and each sipped an aperol spritz (an alcoholic beverage containing orange liqueur, prosecco and sparkling water that tastes like a “grown-up Sprite,” as Bennett noted). The two barely talked about the elephant in the room after Handler addressed the topic early in the broadcast.
“So tell me why you didn’t want to go to the White House today,” she said after a swig of her drink.
“Just fundamentally we don’t match up,” Bennett responded. “It’s just some people’s houses I don’t want to go to if they don’t believe in the same things I believe in.”
Only 34 players were present for the White House ceremony. The same number of players were absent, including Patriots quarterback and Super Bowl LI MVP Tom Brady, who cited “personal family matters” as the reason he was not in D.C. Other than Brady, six players (Bennett, LeGarrette Blount, Chris Long, Devin McCourty, Alan Branch and Dont’a Hightower) announced beforehand that they would not be in attendance.
Not long after New England head coach Bill Belichick and the team presented Trump with a Patriots helmet and custom No. 45 jersey, the player who was the first to speak out against making the trip went live from the West Coast.
With Handler leading the stream-of-consciousness conversation on Facebook, Bennett joked about how he’s “probably the only black person for like a 14-mile radius” in his neighborhood, plugged his multimedia production company, The Imagination Agency, and did a dramatic reading from his first children’s book, Hey A.J. It’s Saturday!
“I feel like Trump is somebody who never had a children’s book read to him, and that’s why he acts the way he is,” Handler playfully interjected while Bennett read. “So this is like the perfect thing for you to bring today, because this is about showing children love.”
Before the Facebook Live ended, Bennett took one audience question: Why are you here today?
“I’m here today to hang out with you,” he told Handler, “so I chose to hang out with you due to the fundamental values that I don’t match up with the guy that’s in the White House.”
Handler followed up the question by asking Bennett whether he was upset that he missed out on visiting the White House as a Super Bowl champion while former President Barack Obama was in office. (In 2014, his older brother, Michael Bennett, visited the White House as a member of the Super XLVIII-winning Seattle Seahawks.)
“I would rather have Barack by my house. Barack is somebody I want to chill at the house with,” Bennett said. “Play Heads Up! or whatever it may be, different games … dance a little bit. Let him spin some old records and talk about music. I wanna talk to him, just hang out with him.
“Hey, Barack, if you’re in Chicago, look me up.”