The Latest: Gronkowski pops into White House briefing

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WASHINGTON (AP) The Latest on the New England Patriots' visit to the White House to celebrate their 2017 Super Bowl championship (all times local):

2:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is saluting the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots at the White House.

Trump says ''no team has been good this long.''

The Patriots rallied from 25 points down to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in February. It was the team's fifth Super Bowl title since February 2002.

The celebration at the White House was tempered by the apparent suicide of former Patriot Aaron Hernandez in prison earlier Wednesday.

Trump has saluted Patriots owner Bob Kraft, a longtime friend, and says the longtime coach, Bill Belichick, has ''built a culture dedicated to winning.''

The president isn't mentioning quarterback Tom Brady. Trump frequently describes Brady as a friend. The star has cited a ''personal family matter' as the reason he's not attending the White House ceremony.


12:55 p.m.

The New England Patriot's Rob Gronkowski paid a surprise visit to the White House briefing room during Wednesday's televised briefing.

The tight end popped his head into the briefing room and jokingly asked Press Secretary Sean Spicer whether he needed any help, drawing laughs. ''I think I got this. But thank you,'' Spicer responded.

The Super Bowl champions are visiting the White House to accept congratulations from President Donald Trump for another NFL title.

Spicer, a Patriots fan, seemed to appreciate the interruption, saying: ''that was cool.''


10:17 a.m.

Star quarterback Tom Brady will not join his New England Patriots teammates Wednesday when the Super Bowl champions visit the White House to accept congratulations from President Donald Trump for another NFL title.

The White House said it was notified that Brady was dealing with a ''personal family matter'' and will not attend the ceremony.

Trump's welcome to the team was coming hours after the news from Massachusetts prisons officials that ex-Patriot tight end Aaron Hernandez hanged himself in his prison cell.

Hernandez, who played for the Patriots from 2010 to 2012, was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction. Days ago, the 27-year-old former tight end was acquitted of a double murder.