Two NFL seasons ago, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady spoke to reporters in front of a locker space that held a “Make America Great Again” hat, an apparent sign of support of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Brady would later imply, vaguely, that he wanted Trump to win the general election, telling reporters in September 2015, “I hope so. That would be great. There’d be a putting green on the White House lawn, I know that.” Since then, the exact nature of Brady and Trump’s relationship has been a subject of interest and there are few things that provide insight into that relationship than the series of Donald Trump quotes about Tom Brady.
From all the times that Trump has spoken about Brady, it’s been clear that the relationship has been one that president has regarded as beneficial for popularity. After winning the Republican primary in March 2016, Trump told The New York Times that having Brady’s support was crucial to the victory.
“Honestly, in that part of the world, a reference like Tom Brady saying Trump’s the biggest winner, Trump is a friend of mine, that makes an incredible difference,” Trump told The Times. “Tom Brady is a great friend of mine. He’s a winner and he likes winners. He was very helpful to us in Massachusetts on Tuesday.”
Trump touted the fact that he had Brady’s support, despite the fact that Brady never formally endorsed Trump during the Republicans primaries. Even after Brady told reporters “I hope so” when asked about whether he wanted Trump to succeed during the primaries, the quarterback eventually backtracked two weeks later, telling reporters, “I don’t even know what the issues are. I haven’t paid attention to politics in a long time. It’s actually not something that I really even enjoy. It’s way off my radar.”
Still, Trump had a knack for citing a friendship with Tom Brady while he was campaigning, particularly while he was discussing cultural topics (which Trump always did to great effect with his audience on the campaign trail).
In August 2015, while the NFL’s Deflategate scandal was still unsettled, Trump said during an interview with Fox Business, “I think it’s ridiculous the way they’ve treated him. He’s a friend of mine, he’s a great friend of mine. He’s a great guy. I think it is terrible the way they’ve treated him.”
Despite Trump numerous references to a friendship with Brady usually came during campaign stops in states within New England (aka Patriots country). A month before the election, candidate Trump again suggested he had political support from Brady, telling a crowd in New Hampshire, “I have so many great friends in New England, including Tom Brady and Coach Belichick. How good is Tom? Remember last year, he had the red hats?”
A month later, during another rally in New Hampshire the night before the general election, Trump went a step further. The then GOP candidate told his audience that Brady said during a phone call he’d vote for Trump.
Trump then went on to read a letter Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wrote to him. That night appears to have been the turning point in the public love affair.
Before Trump’s election eve rally, Brady told Boston-ara radio station WEEI that he hadn’t voted for Trump via early voting. In addition, when asked on her Instagram page whether Brady was voting for Trump, Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, replied with a simple, “NO.”
Since Trump won the election, Brady has also distanced himself from Trump. The quarterback didn’t attend the Patriots visit to the White House in 2017 and, after Trump initiated a feud with NFL players, Brady called Trump’s rhetoric divisive.
Trump has also been reported by The New York Times to have privately lamented that Brady has distanced himself from the president. In other words, Brady and Trump’s relationship looks like what Trump’s seemingly exaggerated quotes always indicated: more of a one way street than the president says.