NFL Patriots meet Trump without Tom Brady, some teammates

US President Donald Trump holds a jersey given to him by the New England Patriots alongside members of the team during a ceremony honoring them as 2017 Super Bowl Champions on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, April 19, 2017.

The Times - a publication Trump has attacked on numerous occasions - tweeted out a photo on Wednesday comparing the "turnout" the Pats had when they visited Barack Obama's White House in 2015 to Trump's White House this week.

The Patriots last won the U.S. football championship in 2015, earning a similar show of congratulations from then-president Barack Obama.

Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots footballer Rob Gronkowski made his presence felt at the White House when he interrupted Sean Spicer's press briefing and asked him if he "needed a hand".

In the 2015 story, the Patriots staff stood on the stairs. But for the Trump visit, those staffers were seated on the South Lawn.

The team's head coach, Bill Belichick, and star quarterback, Tom Brady, are friends with the president as well. He also did not attend in 2015.

Trump called out The New York Times for the misleading tweet on Thursday morning. "That's the beauty of what they do, they win as a team", said Trump, who equated some similarity to the team's stirring 25-point comeback against the Atlanta Falcons with his own political victory.

They attributed the apparent difference in crowd size to a change in seating arrangements.

Spicer, who is an avid Patriots fan, took the interruption in stride by saying, "I think I got this, but thank you".

On Wednesday, the Patriots were missing several faces for several reasons.

"Need some help?" asks the Super Bowl LI victor, who was visiting the president with his team to celebrate their victory over the Atlanta Falcons.

The Patriots said: "Approximately half of the Super Bowl LI squad accepted the invitation to be honoured by Donald J Trump, America's 45th president". Thirty-four players came to meet with President Trump on Wednesday, as opposed to an estimated 50 who came to see Obama. Team spokesman Stacey James told The Boston Globe the White House chose to have the staff sit.

  • Julie Sanders