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Gregory Payan/Evan Agostini/Invision/Winslow Townson/AP

The New England Patriots' trip to the White House today is far from the beginning of the relationship between the Super Bowl champs and Donald Trump.

Coach Bill Belichick wrote a letter to then candidate Trump congratulating him on his campaign, which Trump later read out loud at a rally in New Hampshire. Belichick said he wrote the letter based on a longtime friendship, not politics.

QB Tom Brady was questioned in 2016 when a Make America Great hat was found in his locker, and Trump later credited Brady's support for his Massachusetts primary win. Brady, who never formally endorsed Trump, said they'd been friends since 2002 when he judged a Miss USA pageant.

Owner Robert Kraft contributed $1 million to Trump's inauguration this year. The two became friends when Trump invited Kraft to play golf 20 years ago. Kraft says his loyalty dates back to 2011 when his wife died. Trump attended her funeral and called Kraft once a week for the next year.

Go deeper

21 mins ago - World

UN rights chief: At least 54 killed, 1,700 detained since Myanmar coup

A Feb. 7 protest in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images

Police and military officers in Myanmar have killed at least 54 people during anti-coup protests, while "arbitrarily" detaining over 1,700 people, United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said Thursday.

Why it matters: Protesters have demonstrating across Myanmar for nearly a month, demanding the restoration of democracy after the country's military leaders overthrew its democratically elected government on Feb. 1.

2 hours ago - Health

The danger of a fourth wave

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Anomalous Arkansas case data from Feb. 28 was not included in the calculated change; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. may be on the verge of another surge in coronavirus cases, despite weeks of good news.

The big picture: Nationwide, progress against the virus has stalled. And some states are ditching their most important public safety measures even as their outbreaks are getting worse.

Sidewalk robots get legal rights as "pedestrians"

"We’ve got about 1,000 of them running around out there," Ryan Tuohy of Starship tells Axios. Photo courtesy of Starship Technologies.

As small robots proliferate on sidewalks and city streets, so does legislation that grants them generous access rights and even classifies them, in the case of Pennsylvania, as "pedestrians."

Why it matters: Fears of a dystopian urban world where people dodge heavy, fast-moving droids are colliding with the aims of robot developers large and small — including Amazon and FedEx — to deploy delivery fleets.