Throughout the Deflategate saga, Donald Trump repeatedly expressed support for Tom Brady, and while there were hints that the Patriots quarterback was appreciative, he tried to play down his possible support for the Republican candidate during the presidential campaign. However, at a celebratory dinner the night before Friday’s inauguration, Trump said that Brady had called him to offer congratulations on winning the election.

Speaking to donors Thursday night at a black-tie “candlelight dinner” held at Union Station, Trump pointed out Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The president-elect was recently described as “a wonderful friend” by Kraft, who was spotted entering Trump Tower in November, after the election.

“In the audience we have somebody that’s under no pressure whatsoever, because he’s got a great quarterback named Tom Brady and a great coach named Belichick: Bob Kraft,” Trump said Thursday. “So good luck, Bob.

“Your friend Tom just called. He feels good. He called to congratulate us. He feels good. Good luck. You’re going to do great.”

Trump was referring to the Patriots’ game Sunday against the Steelers for the AFC championship and the right to advance to the Super Bowl. He also said in his remarks that he “outworked anyone who ever ran for office” and “learned that” from New England Coach Bill Belichick.

At a rally in New Hampshire the Monday before the election, Trump talked about a letter he had received from Belichick. “You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media and have come out beautifully,” the letter said. “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.”

“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,” Belichick said of the letter. “The comments are not politically motivated, I have a friendship and loyalty to Donald.”

The coach noted that he also had a friendship with former Massachusetts Democratic Senator and Secretary of State John F. Kerry, adding, “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.”

At that rally, Trump said that Brady, who was spotted that day voting in Brookline, Mass., by absentee ballot, had called that day. He told the crowd that Brady had said, “Donald, I support you, you’re my friend, and I voted for you.”


Robert Kraft, left, and Donald Trump are shown at a Patriots-Jets game in 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Brady would not reveal for whom he had voted, but in September 2015, a “Make America Great Again” cap was seen in his locker. Asked at the time if he really thought Trump could win the presidency, Brady said, “I hope so. It would be great. There would be a putting green on the White House lawn, I can tell you that.”

In October 2016, Brady said of Trump, “We’ve played golf together many, many times and I’ve always had a good time with him. He’s been a friend of mine. He’s supported our team. He’s supported the Patriots. He’s been on the Patriots sideline a lot. He’s always called me after games to encourage me over the course of 15 years. That’s kind of the way it is.”

As for Kraft, he has donated to both Democratic and Republican candidates for various offices, but he said in March last year, “I will always be grateful to [Trump] for his thoughtfulness and his continued friendship.” He called Trump a “very close friend” and added that they “have had a lot of fun together socially, including a very memorable evening in 2005″ when Kraft attended the wedding of the businessman and Melania Trump.