What We Don’t Know About Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Donald Trump
Even on a bye week, Monday night was all about the Patriots. The final moments of the most unpredictable election imaginable have been about the New England franchise, because of course.
Donald Trump, at his final rally last night in New Hampshire, rocked Patriots Nation when he declared that Tom Brady had called to say he voted for him, and that Bill Belichick had sent a loving (and decidedly Trump-like) letter to him on the eve of Election Day.
And with voters heading to the polls across the country and mere hours separating us from the consequences of this flaming garbage pile of an election, there is so much we still don’t know about what happened.
Did Tom Brady actually vote for Donald Trump?
What we know at this point are two things: Trump said Brady voted for him, and Brady did vote. Election officials confirmed as much Tuesday morning, and even shared a photo taken with the athlete—proof he was in the Brookline town clerk’s office to file an absentee ballot on Monday.
But here’s the thing. The clerk’s office can say he cast a ballot, yes, but can’t say how he voted. That’s because we have secret ballots, a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. Brady could have written himself in—as four Pats fans did in New Hampshire during the primary—and no one would ever know.
Is he telling Gisele the truth?
We also don’t know whether Brady was telling the truth to either his friend, Trump, or his wife, Gisele Bündchen. Gisele, on Instagram, denied in all caps that she and her husband were supporting the GOP nominee. “NO!” she wrote in a comment over the weekend when asked if that were the case. It’s not uncommon for spouses to be less than forthcoming about their presidential preferences. A YouGov/Economist poll discovered as much this year, as The Week explains:
While 45 percent of married women said they were voting for Hillary Clinton, only 33 percent of married men responded that their wives would be casting their ballot for the Democratic nominee. Women were a bit more accurate when it came to guessing their spouse’s preference, but there was still a gap: While 49 percent of married men said they’d be casting their ballot for Donald Trump, only 41 percent of married women said their spouse was supporting the GOP candidate.
If Brady did call Trump to say he’d voted for him, it’s unclear whether he actually gave the candidate the go-ahead to announce his choice to the world. Brady hasn’t said anything publicly today, which follows months of reporters pestering him to answer questions about the nominee (who Brady has said is a friend) since a “Make America Great Again” hat was spotted in his locker.
If so, that would be a very weird way to endorse someone. Other athletes have come out in support of their candidates by joining them on stage, a la LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for Clinton, or Johnny Damon and Bobby Knight for Trump. Also Curt Schilling, who has made his choice for president abundantly clear.
If the letter’s real, why does Belichick write like Trump talks?
The language in the flowery language-averse coach’s endorsement—which respected sportscaster Steve Burton says he can confirm was written by Belichick himself—is so Trumpian it’s almost unbelievable. He supposedly called Trump’s campaign “tremendous,” and said he survived an onslaught of biased media coverage “beautifully.”
By noon Tuesday, Belichick hasn’t spoken up himself to confirm it, nor has the Pats’ press office.
Did Belichick know what he was getting into?
For someone who understands football perhaps better than any sentient being in the cosmos, it’s possible Belichick misread the risk in endorsing Trump on the sly. There are reports emerging now that he may have been blindsided by the public reading of his words of praise.
Very good source: yes Belichick sent the letter. No, he had no idea it would be read out loud. Play with snakes, get bitten.
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) November 8, 2016
For the record, Belichick has not exactly avoided associations with Trump. He and his girlfriend Linda Holliday can be seen posing with the candidate in an Instagram photo posted earlier this year. In the caption for the photo, Holliday called Trump “our good friend.”
Will Belichick actually put his vote where his mouth is?
The Patriots head coach, who is registered in Hingham, hasn’t voted yet, per the Globe.
If all of this is true, will Patriots Nation ever forgive them?
Ask again in February. But for now fans are flooding Brady’s Facebook page with sorrow and rage.
Will any of this matter for New Hampshire?
Pollsters late in the game have said that New Hampshire could be up for grabs, with surveys showing voters were split in a swing state that had earlier been leaning pretty substantially Democratic. That’s why so many politicians were flocking there this weekend. The state has only four Electoral College votes to offer, but those could come in handy if things are very close when polls close tonight. The dynamic duo may just have a little more to answer for if Donald squeaks out a win in the state.