Tom Brady's Absence at the White House Makes a Statement
Was it a political statement? Or was it simply a scheduling conflict?
The news networks are buzzing about Tom Brady and other New England Patriots who did not attend a White House ceremony honoring the Patriots' Super Bowl victory. The New York Times reports that President Trump spotlighted a few key players at the ceremony, but many players were not in attendance. According to TIME, only 34 players were present this year. Was this a change to previous years? Well, the numbers aren't consistent. Stacey James, Patriots' Vice President of Media Relations, told TIME that in 2004, 36 players attended George W. Bush's ceremony. But in 2005, the number was 27. So, it varies.
The NYT Sports Twitter feed posted a photo of this year's White House gathering compared to the 2015 ceremony. The 2015 photo is clearly well attended. But according to the New England Patriots' Twitter feed, the photos "lack context." The tweet explains, "In 2015, over 40 football staff were on the stairs. In 2017, they were seated on the South Lawn."
While it's easy to jump to conclusions, a photo doesn't always show the whole picture. As for Tom Brady, The New York Times reports that he pulled out at the last minute "citing family matters." Brady later posted to social media that he was celebrating his parent's 48th wedding anniversary. This is an important celebration for their family because his mother, Galynn, continues to battle cancer. NESN.com writes that she is "recovering from cancer treatments that forced her to miss all but one Patriots game (Super Bowl LI) this season."
While we live in an age where it's common to make political statements in a variety of ways, it's important to remember a key principle of communication: a statement should be clearly stated. If a statement is not clear, one can only speculate. So, when defensive back Devin McCourty voiced his opinion to TIME in February, saying, "I don't feel accepted in the White House," this was a clear statement. However, in this case, where it's unclear why certain players did not attend this year's White House ceremony, one can only guess at the meaning behind the numbers or photos. And this guessing game borders on the realm of speculation.
While it's unclear whether the Patriots were making any sort of political statement on the White House lawn, Tom Brady made his own statement to the world of social media. He communicated that love and family are everything. He tweeted, "For 48 years, my sisters and I have had the best example of love, friendship and compassion in our lives! And it's so special to celebrate together! I love you mom and Dad!"