Gov. Paul LePage has made it perfectly clear that he is not a fan of the New England Patriots.
According to recent media reports, LePage does not plan to invite representatives of the five-time Super Bowl champions to visit the State House in Augusta as part of any victory tour the organization might be planning.
In a Thursday interview on Portland radio station WGAN-AM, LePage said there was “no chance” he’d invite the Patriots to Maine’s state capital, according to a Boston.com report.
However, a trio of Maine civic leaders have already taken steps to bring the Patriots’ victory tour to the state.
The mayors of Bangor, Brewer, and Portland sent a letter this week to New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft congratulating the team on its record-breaking Super Bowl win, and they asked if the team would visit and exhibit the Lombardi Trophy in the Cross Insurance facilities in Bangor (Cross Insurance Center) and Portland (Cross Insurance Arena).
“Maine has a proud tradition of supporting the New England Patriots, and our cities have a shared connection with one of the Patriots’ proud supporters, the Cross Insurance Agency. Just last month, the patriarch of this agency turned 100 years old, and it would be a great honor for the Bangor-Brewer and Portland communities if the team would visit to celebrate their fifth Super Bowl win,” Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci said in a news release.
“This year’s Super Bowl was truly historic for the New England Patriots, and given the love for the team here in Maine, I’m delighted to support this request,” said Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling. “I look forward to helping out in any way to see if we can make it happen.”
“Roger that,” added Brewer Mayor Kevin O’Connell.
LePage said recently that he has a difficult time “getting over what Bob Kraft did to the state of Connecticut.”
He was referring to when the longtime New England Patriots owner had planned on moving the team to Hartford from Foxborough, but the team reneged on the plan to move to Connecticut’s state capital after the Massachusetts Legislature approved incentives after a long political battle that left many thinking Kraft had used Connecticut for leverage.
The Patriots moved into Gillette Stadium, their current home in Foxborough, in 2002 after playing at Foxboro Stadium since 1971.
LePage, a self-professed New York Giants fan who has praised Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as one of the all-time greats, also recently referenced the drafting of tight end Aaron Hernandez, who had slipped in the 2010 NFL Draft because of character issues in spite of his talent.
Hernandez was subsequently convicted in 2015 of the 2013 murder of acquaintance Odin Lloyd.
According to the Boston.com report, LePage did watch the Patriots’ 34-28 Super Bowl overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday night despite having previously said he had no plans to watch it.
According to the report, LePage said the Patriots represent “bad business” and lack “character and integrity.”
The Patriots rallied from a 28-3 third-quarter deficit to defeat the Falcons and bring a fifth world championship to New England.
Several Patriots players, including safety Devin McCourty and tight end Martellus Bennett, have publicly said they would not visit the White House should the team be invited there by President Donald Trump.
Earlier this week, Baldacci posted on his Facebook page that the Patriots would be welcomed at the city’s Cross Insurance Center should they want to come up.
“Along with Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling and Brewer Mayor Kevin O’Connell, if he is willing and any other Maine mayors who wish to join our request, I intend to extend an invitation to Bob Kraft and the Patriots to come to Bangor and Portland — and obviously the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor,” Baldacci’s post read. “There are hundreds of thousands of Maine fans who have always remained loyal.”
In 2002, after New England won its first Super Bowl, Kraft and team members Adam Vinatieri, Lawyer Milloy and Bobby Hamilton made Bass Park in Bangor a stop on the team’s victory tour. They were greeted by an estimated 4,000 fans.