Trump blasts 'New York Times' over Patriots photo flap

Enlarge ImageA smaller group this time.                  Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Enlarge ImageA smaller group this time. Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

On Wednesday night, New York Times Sports tweeted two photos of Patriots players outside the White House.

The New England Patriots quickly took issue with the photo comparison, which featured an Associated Press photo of the Patriots standing behind Obama on the south side of the White House in 2015 - the stairs on either side of the main group packed with people.

In 2004, when another Patriots squad won its second Super Bowl in three seasons, only 36 players showed up after more than 50 had turned out in 2002.

The Patriots responded four hours later to the Times' post, tweeting: "These photos lack context". "In 2015, over 40 football staff were on the stairs".

"James said that one reason substantially fewer players showed up this time as compared to 2015 was that some veteran players did not see the need to go twice in three years", The New York Times reported.

After weeks of players like Chris Long and Martellus Bennett saying they would skip this year's Washington victory lap because of President Donald Trump's politics, there appeared to be far less people around the presidential podium than in 2015 when the Pats last visited. On Wednesday, they were seated on the South Lawn.

The Times also added a correction to a story about the gathering, writing: "An earlier version of this article included photos comparing the size of the Patriots' gathering at the White House in 2015 and the gathering on Wednesday".

The Patriots, who are owned by Trump donor Robert Kraft, eventually tweeted their own "comparable" photo to combat theories that a sizable number of their players and staff had boycotted this week's event. "Today, we had 34". Tom Brady was among the players not in attendance, with the quarterback saying he didn't attend for "personal family matters".

Some players reportedly declined to attend the White House ceremony because they didn't want to be seen with Trump.