Tom Brady dodges a lot of things. He dodges linemen, linebackers, corners and safeties. One thing he cannot dodge, however, is his friendship with President Donald J. Trump. The pair first met over a decade ago, but it wasn’t a public topic of interest until a “Make America Great Again” hat appeared in Brady’s locker in 2015. As Trump’s campaign progressed, the Brady scrutiny increased, particularly in the Patriots’ home state of Massachusetts. As recently as January 2017, Brady was on WEEI radio talking about his friendship, saying, “Why does everybody make such a big deal? I don’t understand it.”
To better understand, let’s look at the history of Brady and Trump’s friendship:
1. They First Met in 2002 After Brady Won His First Super Bowl
In 2001, Donald Trump was just like most people: he didn’t know who Tom Brady was. It wasn’t until Brady shocked the world with a Super Bowl XXXVI win that Trump took notice. Trump flew Brady down to Gary, Indiana to be a judge for Miss Universe 2002. Trump told SI in 2002, “If one thing stands out about Tom Brady, it’s that he loves those women. And guess what? They love him, too.”
From there, Brady recalls playing golf together “many, many times.” Brady once joked that a Trump presidency would yield, of all things, “a putting green on the White House lawn.” But as Brady told WEEI last September, he and Trump don’t spend as much time together as they used to.
“In my younger days when I would have more time that I could spend doing those types of things, before there were kids, we spent a lot of time golfing together and so forth.”
2. Trump Gave a ‘M.A.G.A.’ Hat to Robert Kraft to Pass Along to Brady
The friendship still wasn’t a story until September 5, 2015. While giving an interview in front of his locker, reporters noticed Trump’s signature apparel placed in Brady’s locker. According to reports, Trump gave the hat to Robert Kraft to pass along to Brady. When he was asked about the hat, Brady stated that it was a “nice keepsake” and that it would be “great” if Trump won the election.
Brady never wore the hat. From all reports, Brady never asked for the hat. The news inevitably reached Trump, who shared a tweet from CNN stating that Brady was endorsing Donald Trump for president.
3. Brady Informally Endorsed Trump in 2015 & Immediately Walked It Back
Two weeks later, Brady took to local radio to address his “endorsement.” On the Dennis & Callahan Show, Brady was much more careful with his words as he distanced himself from the political scene.
“A comment like that, I try to have fun with certain things,” Brady said. “Whatever I vote is going to be my own personal choice based on how I feel. 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.”
Through the criticism, Brady remained linked to Trump. Brady has stated that he supports Trump as a friend, and admires the way Trump has succeeded in different fields.
I support all my friends in everything they do,” Brady told WEEI in December of 2015. “I think it’s pretty remarkable what he’s achieved in his life. You’re going from business, kind of an incredible businessman and then a TV star, and then getting into politics. It’s three different career paths. I think that is pretty remarkable.”
4. Brady’s Wife Said ‘NO’ on Social Media After a Fan Asked if They ‘Back’ Trump
Brady made an off-hand comment, and CNN turned it into an endorsement. When a fan asked Brady’s wife Gisele if the couple stood with Trump, she did not hold back.
On Instagram, a user asked Gisele if she and her husband were “backing” Trump. Gisele responded with an emphatic “NO!”
More recently, Gisele posted an Instagram photo supporting immigration in the U.S. Gisele, who is from Brazil and is an immigrant herself, posted the caption: “The beauty of the human race is in its diversity. We are all connected and we are stronger when we come together. Only ego, beliefs and fears separate us.”
5. Trump Credits Brady & Belichick for His Political Success in Massachusetts
President Trump is not only friends with Tom Brady, but with Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft as well. And while Brady shies away from the microphone whenever Trump’s name comes up, Trump can’t stop talking about his famous friend. It started as early as 2015, when Trump mentioned Brady was helping his numbers in Massachusetts.
“In Massachusetts, I’m at 48 percent,” he told Washington Post. “You know why? Tom Brady said Trump’s the greatest. He says it to anyone who asks him.”
After defeating John Kasich to win the Massachusetts primary, Trump told the New York Times that Brady’s “endorsement” was a huge boost.
“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,” said Trump. “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.”
Lastly, when Trump was campaigning in the New England area, he once again used Brady’s name to gain support.
“I have Tom Brady,” Trump told the crowds. “And she doesn’t. We have Tom Brady on our side.”