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Trump: Patriots' Super Bowl LI win was 'legendary'

President Donald Trump welcomed the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots to the White House on Wednesday, describing their comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons as "legendary."

"It was the first overtime game in Super Bowl history and it ended in a legendary victory for this proud franchise and these absolutely terrific players and coaches," Trump said while speaking in front of Patriots players and staff on the South Lawn of the White House. "With your backs against the wall and the pundits -- good old pundits, boy they're wrong a lot aren't they? -- saying you couldn't do it, the game was over. You pulled off the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all-time ... and that was just special."

Trump went on to praise Patriots owner Robert Kraft for guiding the franchise to its fifth Super Bowl title since the 2001 season.

"He's built a culture dedicated to winning," Trump said. "And he started it with his coach, and I want to tell you that is one special man. It's called the Patriot Way and that really starts with Coach (Bill) Belichick.

"The Patriots are an incredible organization and this Super Bowl victory was a complete team effort. That's the beauty of what they do. They win as a team."

Trump recognized several Patriots players for their efforts during the 25-point comeback, including Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell, Julian Edelman and Nate Ebner. Belichick later presented Trump with a Patriots jersey and helmet.

"It's a distinct honor for us to celebrate what was unequivocally our sweetest championship with a very good friend and somebody whose mental toughness and strength are greatly admired," Kraft said.

Trump did not mention Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, who did not attend the event after announcing Wednesday he would not go because of family matters.

LeGarrette Blount, Martellus Bennett, Devin McCourty and Chris Long did not attend the ceremony, citing political reasons for their decisions. Alan Branch and Dont'a Hightower previously cited personal reasons for their decisions not to go. Amendola also did not attend.

A total of 34 Patriots players attended the White House ceremony, the team told NFL Network's Kimberly Jones. That compares to 36 Patriots players who went to the White House in 2004 and the 27 who attended in 2005. Roughly 50 Patriots players attended the 2015 celebration with then-president Barack Obama.

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