Tom Brady, who announced his retirement Tuesday as the most successful quarterback in NFL history, kept his opponents guessing, on the field and off.
Brady’s bob-and-weave approach to managing ties with President Donald Trump has since become part of the GOP playbook.
Brady’s longtime friendship with Trump became an unwanted issue for the then-New England Patriots quarterback during the 2016 presidential campaign.
- With the news media bearing down, Brady kept his feet moving and avoided taking a hard hit.
1. Sept. 16, 2015: Brady was unapologetic in response to reporters’ questions about a “Make America Great Again” cap displayed in his locker at Gillette Stadium.
“That would be great,” Brady said of Trump winning the presidency. “There’d be a putting green on the White House lawn, I’m sure of that.”
- Brady’s remarks — which came after he called the “MAGA” movement amazing” — earned him liberal ire and media scrutiny that lasted throughout Trump’s presidency.
- While Brady subsequently distanced himself from Trump, he never denounced his old golfing buddy.
2. July 20, 2021: Following his record seventh Super Bowl win, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brady celebrated at the White House and joked about Trump’s rejection of “Sleepy Joe”‘s election victory.
Brady’s White House riff annoyed some conservatives and thrilled many liberals who took Brady to be mocking Trump.
- Observers noted that Brady had declined to celebrate his two Trump-era Super Bowl wins at the White House.
- But Brady also skipped his chance at an Obama White House celebration.
RUNNING BRADY’S PLAY
While Brady often insisted he was not politically savvy, many Republican officials have since adopted the quarterback’s Trump strategy.
- “With his victory in the Virginia gubernatorial race, Glenn Youngkin wrote a new Republican playbook for keeping Donald Trump’s base engaged without alienating the voters who were repelled by the former president in recent elections,” CNN reported in November.
- “Youngkin had a message, was very disciplined and handled Trump with respect,” Scott Reed, the former chief political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told the network, adding, “Virginia punished [President Joe] Biden too.”