Tom Brady and Bill Belichick were in message-control mode when the two titans of the New England Patriots faced the media for the first time since their names were used by Donald Trump in a campaign speech Monday.
Did Brady vote for the Republican, as Trump said? Did the quarterback’s wife, Gisele Bündchen, say the couple didn’t support Trump? Did Belichick really write a letter gushing about Trump? Inquiring minds wanted to know and the opportunity to find out presented itself Wednesday when the Patriots star and coach met with reporters for the first time since the speech.
First, the Brady/Bündchen family.
In Manchester, N.H., Trump had claimed that Brady had phoned to say he had voted for him, which was at odds with Bündchen’s “NO!” reply over the weekend to an Instagram user who had inquired if the couple backed Trump. Asked initially why he gave permission for Trump to speak of his ballot preference, Brady intimated to reporters that Trump may not have been given the go-ahead. “So you’re assuming I gave people permission?” he asked.
Pressed to say whether he supported Trump, he deferred to the Mrs. “Talk to my wife. She said I can’t talk about politics anymore. I think that’s a good decision made for our family.”
Earlier, Belichick had stepped to the podium to say that the letter, in which he praised Trump’s leadership, had been written out of friendship and loyalty. The coach was forced to do that rarest of things for him, pulling back the curtain just a wee bit and revealing information completely unrelated to the game at hand this weekend.
“I’ve received a number of inquiries relative to a note that I wrote to Donald on Monday,” he said. “Our friendship goes back many years and I think anybody that’s spent more than five minutes with me knows I’m not a political person. The comments are not politically motivated, I have a friendship and loyalty to Donald.
“[A] couple of weeks ago, we had Secretary of State [John] Kerry in our locker room. That’s another friend of mine. I can’t imagine two people with more different political views than those two, but to me friendship and loyalty is just about that. It’s not about political or religious views.
“I write hundreds of letters and notes every month. [It] doesn’t mean I agree with every single thing that every person thinks about politics, religion or other subjects. I have multiple friendships that are important to me. That’s what that was about.
“It’s not about politics, it’s about football. We’ve got a huge game this week against a great football team and a great organization . . .”
So, nothing more to see here, right?
Pretty much. Belichick was peppered with further questions from reporters about Trump and he quickly reverted to peak Belichick form, replying to each with the updated version of his famous “it’s on to Cincinnati” answer about this week’s opponent.
Trump shared Belichick’s letter in a campaign appearance Monday in Manchester, N.H., telling the crowd that Belichick had agreed to this rare glimpse into his personal correspondence.
“Congratulations on a tremendous campaign,” Trump read. “You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media and have come out beautifully. You’ve proved to be the ultimate competitor and fighter. Your leadership is amazing. I have always had tremendous respect for you, but the toughness and perseverance you have displayed over the past year is remarkable. Hopefully tomorrow’s election results will give the opportunity to Make America Great Again. Best wishes for great results tomorrow, Bill Belichick.”