Last week, Tom Brady announced at the eleventh hour that he would be missing the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots’ customary White House visit.
“Thank you to the President for hosting this honorary celebration and for supporting our team for as long as I can remember,” wrote Brady in a statement to ESPN. “In light of some recent developments, I am unable to attend today’s ceremony, as I am attending to some personal family matters. Hopefully, if we accomplish the goal of winning a championship in the future years, we will [be] back on the South Lawn again soon.”
Brady’s mother is battling cancer, but that didn’t stop people from questioning whether the star quarterback’s absence had anything to do with his supermodel wife, Gisele Bundchen. Even The Boston Globe ran a story with the headline, “Did Brady skip the White House at the urging of Gisele?” speculating that Gisele, who tweeted out (and then deleted) a message promoting an anti-Trump rally on the very day of the Patriots’ April 19th White House visit (“On April 29th in Washington - D.C. - March for climate, jobs, and justice. To change everything, we need everyone,” it read), claimed on Instagram that she and her husband didn’t back Trump, and, according to Brady, urged her husband to no longer talk politics, had a hand in the nonappearance.
Not so, according to Brady’s former Patriots’ teammate Donte Stallworth. Stallworth, an ex-wide receiver who played on Brady’s Pats in 2007 and 2012, claimed that Gisele had nothing to do with it, and it’s all about his mother’s health.
“Speaking to a couple of guys that are extremely close with Tommy, his mother hasn’t been feeling too well. I do know that he wanted to be here, obviously,” Stallworth told TMZ. “Regardless of what anyone thinks of Donald Trump—or Tom Brady, for that matter—they have been friends for a very long time. I remember in 2007 Donald Trump being in our locker room after a game. Their relationship goes far back.”
Indeed it does. Brady and Trump have been good pals since 2002, when, following his first Super Bowl win, he flew the young QB down on a private jet to judge the then-Trump-owned Miss USA pageant in Gary, Indiana. Since then, the two have remained golf buddies, and Brady has quietly supported the real estate mogul’s presidential run—first by keeping a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat in his locker, then by telling reporters it would be “great” if Trump were president (after receiving backlash, he said the comment was somehow taken out of context).
He expanded on his feelings toward Trump, who constantly bragged about Brady’s support along the campaign trail (even crediting Brady for his big Massachusetts GOP primary win), in a December 2015 interview with WEEI.
“Donald is a good friend of mine. I have known him for a long time. I support all my friends. That is what I have to say. He’s a good friend of mine. He’s always been so supportive of me,” said Brady. “For the last 15 years, since I judged a beauty pageant for him, which was one of the very first things that I did that I thought was really cool that came along with winning the Super Bowl. He’s always invited me to play golf and I’ve always enjoyed his company. I support all my friends in everything they do. 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.”
It’s not just Brady, either. Both Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick are good pals with the President, with Belichick paying a visit to Mar-a-Lago to celebrate Trump’s Massachusetts GOP primary win, and Kraft reportedly donating $1 million to his inaugural celebrations, including an embarrassingly D-list concert headlined by Three Doors Down.
Stallworth reiterated that “it wasn’t any other circumstance” other than his mother’s health that caused Brady to miss the White House visit, adding, “I would like to caution people, too—this is a very trying time for not just her obviously, but for his whole family, so I would caution people against speculating before they actually know all the facts of what’s actually happening.”
President Trump, for his part, didn’t appear to take Brady’s absence well, refusing to so much as mention his name during the ceremony.