WASHINGTON, D.C. -- All things considered, the Patriots had a good crowd show up to Wednesday's White House visit.
The team invited 68 players -- including all 53 players on the active roster at the end of the season, practice-squad members and those on injured reserve -- and exactly half showed up to celebrate the team's Super Bowl victory with president Donald Trump.
This was on the high end of what the club was expecting. The projected range of attendees was thought to be somewhere between 27 (the number of players that showed up for the Patriots visit to the White House in 2005) and 36 (the number that showed up to the White House visit in 2004). As was the case in those years, the thinking was that the number of players present was reduced in part because for some who were invited the novelty of going to the White House wasn't the same as it was two years ago.
Of course, there are players who opted not to show due to their feeling about Trump and his administration. Devin McCourty, Alan Branch, Chris Long, Martellus Bennett and LeGarrette Blount all have been outspoken about the fact that they did not feel as though it was appropriate for them to take part in the festivities because of the man occupying the nation's highest office.
There were other reasons for player absences, however. Run-of-the mill reasons. One player said he would not be able to make it earlier this week because he had the dates mixed up and couldn't miss a family birthday party. Another had a surgery scheduled for his dog.
Tom Brady's absence was the most notable. He had a personal family matter to attend to, he told ESPN's Mike Reiss. The only players no longer on the Patriots to make the trip were Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo -- both now members of the Colts.
While the investigation into the New England Patriots' illicit videotaping of the Cincinnati Bengals' sideline last weekend is ongoing, The Washington Post's Mark Maske is reporting that the punishment could be aligned in severity with similiar game-day violations committed by other NFL teams in recent years.
That means fines in the range of six figures and/or a reduced round value on a draft pick — or worse still, the loss of one altogether:
"The NFL is likely to penalize the New England Patriots for their admitted violation of league video policy last weekend and is contemplating disciplinary measures in line with those imposed on teams in recent seasons for infractions of game-day rules, according to people familiar with the deliberations.
That could mean a fine in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and potentially the loss or reduction in value of a draft choice, typically a lower-level pick."
Looking for something similar to what the Patriots were levied for Spygate? Maske points out that punishment was clearly an exception, not a guardrail:
The Patriots have admitted wrongdoing in last Sunday's incident in Cleveland, in which a credentialed Patriots video crew member was caught filming the Bengals' sideline during their game against the Browns. New England has said the camera crew was there to feature a scout as part of their "Do Your Job" video series.
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Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman and center Ted Karras, who were each listed as questionable with injuries, made the trip to Cincinnati with the team Saturday but backup defensive tackle Byron Cowart was downgraded to out with a concussion, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss.
Edelman, the team's leading receiver, has been battling shoulder and ankle injuries. Karras, the starting center, missed the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday with a knee injury. Both were limited in practice this week.
The Patriots (10-3), coming off back-to-back losses to the Houston Texans and Chiefs, play the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday at 1 p.m.