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Date set for Patriots’ visit to White House; several players have already pledged to skip

President Donald Trump poses for picture with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, left, and the crew before boarding Air Force One at the Palm Beach International Airport, Sunday, March 19, 2017, in West Palm Beach.
President Donald Trump poses for picture with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, left, and the crew before boarding Air Force One at the Palm Beach International Airport, Sunday, March 19, 2017, in West Palm Beach. AP

The invitation has been sent.

Now, let’s see who RSVP’s.

President Trump will host the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots to the White House on April 19.

Most of them, at least.

It’s tradition for the president to invite champions to 1600 Pennsylvania, and historically it’s been a non-political affair.

But these have been anything but traditional times.

At least six Patriots have already said they’ll skip the ceremony; most are boycotting over their opposition to Trump and his policies.

The players who have said they will not attend: defensive end Chris Long, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive tackle Alan Branch, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, cornerback Devin McCourty and tight end Martellus Bennett.

“I will NOT be going to the White House,” Blount said last month in the Rich Eisen Show. “I don't feel welcome in that house. I'll leave it at that.”

Not everyone shares their opinion, of course. In fact, Trump has three fans in high places in the organization: Owner Bob Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

Trump often name-dropped his friendship with all three while on the stump, and Kraft recently accompanied Trump to Mar-a-Lago, flying on Air Force One.

Brady said in February that he was OK with those who decide to skip the event, saying “everybody has their own choice.”

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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