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Will athletes follow Tom Brady’s lead and skip White House visits?

President Obama looks over a signed New England Patriots helmet presented to him by Pats owner Robert Kraft (left) during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in 2015
President Obama looks over a signed New England Patriots helmet presented to him by Pats owner Robert Kraft (left) during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in 2015AP/file

Former NBA star Jalen Rose invoked Tom Brady’s name while discussing the possibility that professional athletes may boycott White House visits when Donald Trump becomes president.

With LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers set to visit the White House Thursday, Rose said he thinks a lot of athletes will skip such visits in the future as a form of protest against Trump. The analyst on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” reminded viewers that Brady, citing an unspecified “scheduling conflict,” skipped the Patriots’ visit with President Obama at the White House in April 2015.

“What we’re going to see in professional sports — NBA and NFL — mark my words, there will be players that decline the opportunity to visit the White House under [Trump’s] presidency,” said Rose.

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In light of Brady’s support for Trump, it’s fair to wonder anew if Brady’s decision to ditch the White House was, in fact, a political decision or, as he claimed, a simple scheduling issue. You’ll recall that Bruins goalie Tim Thomas skipped the Stanley Cup champs’ visit to the Obama White House in 2012 because, he said in a statement, “the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.” And in 2008, then-Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and slugger Manny Ramirez opted not to attend the White House ceremony during George W. Bush’s presidency in 2008. Epstein cited “family reasons.”