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Trump welcomes Patriots at White House

No mention of Brady who was not in attendance

David Tanklefsky
April 19, 2017 - 3:29 pm
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President Donald Trump welcomed the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots to the White House Wednesday afternoon. For the president, it was a moment to recognize New England's victory and also to rehash his own presidential victory which was, he says, bolstered by support from Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick.

Speaking in front of the assembled media with the team behind him on the South Lawn of the White House, Trump said Belichick wrote him a "beautiful letter" after the presidential primaries. The president asked the coach if he could read it the night before the election when he would be speaking in front of a crowd in New Hampshire.

"He said, 'You know what, I'd rather not have you do that. Could you send it back to me? I'm going to send you another one,'" Trump said. What came back, according to the president, was another letter, more emphatically expressing the coach's support from then candidate Trump.

"He toned it way up," Trump said. "It was much better. He made that the greatest letter and I did very well in that state."

The president was also effusive in his praise of Kraft. The two have been friends for many years and Kraft has been seen flying with the president aboard Air Force One and dining with him at Mar-a-Lago. 

"Bob, I want to commend you for building such an extraordinary organization," Trump said. "He's built a culture dedicated to winning and he started it with his coach and I want to tell you, that is some special man."

Trump recognized a number of wounded military veterans who were also attending the event and singled out Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona, a graduate of the Naval Academy and an active member of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The president recounted New England's historic come-from-behind win in Super Bowl LI, comparing their long odds with his own long-shot chances of becoming president. He recognized a number of players for their efforts including wide receiver Julian Edelman and defensive end Trey Flowers. 

Noticeably absent though was any mention of Tom Brady, who didn't attend because of family reasons. 

On the campaign trail, Trump had touted his relationship with Brady. The two have known each other for years and were sometimes golf partners. Brady has said Trump is a friend and was once seen with a "Make America Great Again" hat in his locker, though he never gave Trump an official endorsement.

Besides Brady, a number of Patriots chose not to attend the ceremony for political reasons. Lagarrette Blount, Devin McCourty, Chris Long and others chose not to attend.

That wasn't on Coach Belichick's mind when he offered up a few brief remarks at the podium.

"The opportunity and privilege of coming to the White House is just one of the great things about winning the Super Bowl," Belichick said. He went on to thank all the Patriots fans who had supported the team throughout the season.