President Joe Biden celebrated Tom Brady and the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the White House on Tuesday, the first visit by the reigning NFL champions since 2017.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion who once was gifted a “Make America Great Again” hat from Trump that he displayed in his locker at Gillette Stadium compared those backing Trump’s false assertion that he won the 2020 election to people who couldn’t believe the underdog Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Not a lot of people think that we could have won, and in fact I think about 40% of the people still don’t think we won,” Brady said. “You understand that, Mr. President?”
Brady also played off Trump’s derisive “Sleepy Joe” nickname for Biden when talking about a time he forgot what down it was.
“I lost track of one down in 21 years of playing, and they started calling me ‘Sleepy Tom,’” Brady said with a grin. “Why would they do that to me?”
It was Brady’s first visit since 2005 with the New England Patriots when George W. Bush was in office. Brady has won the Super Bowl during four different administrations but skipped visits by the Patriots in 2015 with Barack Obama and 2017 with Trump. The Patriots as a team chose not to attend after winning in 2019.
Brady was front and center this time, one of 42 Bucs players accompanying Biden, coach Bruce Arians and owner Bryan Glazer to the ceremony, which included more than just his jokes. There was some pointed political commentary from Arians and a push from the president for players to get vaccinated against the coronavirus if they hadn’t already.
Arians quickly shifted from extolling his Buccaneers’ guiding principles of “trust, loyalty, and respect” that focused the team on “one team, one cause” to taking an indirect dig at Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill who have opposed elements of the president’s agenda.
Biden also lauded NFL efforts to promote COVID-19 vaccinations.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not directly answer when asked if the Buccaneers provided information on which team attendees were vaccinated. Over half of their traveling party of players coached and staff has been fully vaccinated, and while 10 NFL teams as of Friday had reached the 85% threshold it’s unclear if Tampa Bay was one of them.
Biden in his prepared remarks singled out receiver Chris Godwin, like himself Pennsylvania-born and Delaware-raised, who he spoke with before the Super Bowl.
“I wasn’t expecting it, so it definitely took me by surprise,” Godwin said afterward. “He gave me a call the day before the Super Bowl, and I was shocked then. We chatted, had a five-, 10-minute talk, talked about Delaware a little bit and he wished me good luck. That was an honor for me. Then he was kind enough to send me a letter afterwards congratulating me on the win and congratulating the team.”
As the oldest person to become president, Biden compared himself to Brady being the oldest quarterback and Arians the oldest coach to win it all.
“You won’t hear any jokes about that from me,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with being the oldest guy to make it to the mountaintop.”