During Tuesday’s ceremony, Brady and President Biden struck a more amiable tone, finding commonality in their accomplishments.
“A lot is made about the fact that we have the oldest coach ever to win a Super Bowl and the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl,” Biden said, referencing Brady, 43, and Bruce Arians, 68. “I’ll tell you right now, you won’t hear any jokes about that from me. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with being the oldest guy to make it to the mountaintop.”
The previous visit by an NFL champion occurred four years ago, after Brady’s New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, but Brady skipped that trip. The 2018 champion Philadelphia Eagles were disinvited by Trump, who had feuded with players who took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality, after several players indicated they planned to skip the trip.
The 2019 Patriots cited scheduling conflicts in saying they could not work out a date for a visit during the offseason, and the 2020 champion Kansas City Chiefs were unable to visit because of the pandemic.
Asked by tackle Donovan Smith if he “had residency here” as the players walked onto the South Lawn, Brady laughed and said, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been here.”
Despite rising coronavirus numbers across the country and the opening of training camp this week, a large contingent of Bucs players came to the White House. But Brady evidently decided his seventh Super Bowl victory — and first with Tampa Bay — was worthy after spending the past couple of weeks working out with some of his former wide receivers in Montana and playing golf in “The Match.”
Biden acknowledged Buccaneers assistants Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar, the first women to win NFL titles as coaches, during his comments. He also recognized wide receiver Chris Godwin, a Pennsylvania native who attended high school in Delaware, as Biden did.
Brady spoke after Arians and team owner Bryan Glazer, and he joked about his and Biden’s doubters.
“It didn’t look great there at one point,” Brady said of last season. “We were 7-5, struggling a little bit as the president alluded to, but we found our rhythm, we got on a roll. Not a lot of people think that we could have won, and in fact I think about 40 percent of the people still don’t think we won.”
Brady’s quip, which alluded to the 30 percent of Americans who say Biden did not legitimately receive enough votes to win the presidency, was met with laughter and affirmation from Biden.
The scene was far more sedate than the Buccaneers’ celebratory boat parade, an alcohol-fueled fest in which a tequila-sodden Brady threw the Lombardi Trophy to tight end Cameron Brate, standing on another boat a few yards away, as even his 8-year-old daughter, Vivi, cried, “Dad, no!”
Brady went to the White House with the Patriots after their first three Super Bowl victories in 2002, 2003 and 2005 but had not attended since beating the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX. During Trump’s presidency, Brady skipped a 2017 trip despite Trump’s friendship with Patriots Coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft. Brady had called Trump a friend and golfing partner, too, but when a “Make America Great Again” hat was spotted in his locker in 2015, he attempted to deflect attention from politics.
Other Patriots players stated their reasons for not going to Trump’s White House. “I don’t feel accepted in the White House,” Devin McCourty said at the time. “… With the president having so many strong opinions and prejudices, I believe certain people might feel accepted there while others won’t.”
In the six months since Biden was elected and with pandemic restrictions easing, the White House has hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers, winners of the 2020 World Series, and invited the Los Angeles Lakers, who won the NBA championship last year. The Lakers, eliminated from the NBA playoffs in early June, have not yet visited and a new NBA champion will be crowned this week.
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