President Trump drew parallels between his unlikely election victory and the New England Patriots during their Super Bowl celebration Wednesday at the White House.
Trump borrowed one of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s most famous phrases in his speech honoring the defending champions.
“Whether you're trying to rebuild our country or win a Super Bowl, there are no days off,” the president said during a ceremony on the South Lawn.
Trump compared the Patriots’ record 25-point comeback against the Atlanta Falcons to his defeat of the widely favored Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE in November.
“With your backs against the wall and the pundits — good old pundits, boy they’re wrong a lot, aren’t they — saying you couldn’t do it, the game was over, you pulled off the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all time,” he said. “That was just special.”
The president has a close friendship both team owner Robert Kraft and Belichick, referencing a letter of encouragement the coach wrote him before a crucial primary contest last year.
“He’s becoming a pretty famous guy for winning, I’ll tell you that,” Trump said of Kraft, who was one of several NFL team owners to donate $1 million to his inaugural committee.
The owner gave Trump a personalized Patriots jersey commemorating their fifth Super Bowl victory, one short of the league record.
The celebration, however, was clouded by former Patriots player Aaron Hernandez’s suicide in prison just hours before the team’s visit.
Hernandez was serving a life sentence for murder but was recently acquitted on separate double murder charges.
Patriots players did not speak about Hernandez’s death at the White House and team officials earlier said they would not comment.
Seven members of the team did not attend the White House event, including some who said they were skipping it for political reasons.
That group included Super Bowl MVP quarterback Tom Brady, who said he was forced to miss the celebration to attend to a “personal family matter.” Brady’s mother has been battling cancer for roughly two years.
The president, who has spoken about his relationship with Brady in the past, did not mention him during his speech.
Before the ceremony, star tight end Rob Gronkowski tried to inject some levity by crashing White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s daily media briefing.
Gronkowski asked Spicer if he needed help handling the press. The spokesman quickly turned and said he could handle their questions.
“I think I got this. But thank you,” he said.
After Gronkowski left the room, Spicer — who is a diehard Patriots fan — cracked a smile.
“All right, that was pretty cool,” he remarked.