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Robert Kraft downplays Patriots players skipping White House trip

Considering all of the Patriots who have said they will skip the team's visit to the White House, will President Trump end the tradition?

Patriots owner Robert Kraft spent some time with President Donald Trump this weekend, and seemed unfazed by the prospect that at least 10 percent of his latest Super Bowl roster wants no part of a similar offer.

During an appearance on the Today show, Kraft said the fact that at least six of his players have publicly announced they won’t be joining the team on a White House visit wasn’t terribly new.

“Well, you know what’s interesting, this is our, I’m happy to say, fifth Super Bowl in the last 16 years,” Kraft said, via Phil Perry of “And every time we’ve had the privilege of going to the White House, a dozen of our players don’t go. This is the first time it’s gotten any media attention. You know, some of the players have the privilege of going in college because they’re on National Championship teams, others have family commitments. But this is America. We’re all free to do whatever’s best for us. We’re just privileged to be in a position to be going.”

It’s not the first time it has gotten attention, however. Quarterback Tom Brady skipped the last one two years ago when Barack Obama was in office, but would ostensibly make this trip since he’s friends with President Trump.

But so far, Devin McCourty, Martellus Bennett, Chris Long, Dont’a Hightower, Alan Branch and LeGarrette Blount have all said they won’t make the trip, several of them explicitly saying they didn’t feel welcomed there.

Kraft joined President Trump and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe for dinner at the Mar-a-Lago resort on Friday night.