April 19, 2017

Donald Trump salutes Patriots in White House ceremony

It was all smiles for the Patriots at the White House today as President Donald Trump honored the team for its victory in Super Bowl LI.

Trump lavished praise on team owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick, and saluted the Patriots for their wild, come-from-behind win over Atlanta two months ago.

The Patriots, he said, “delivered iconic American sports moments that will last forever” in their comeback from 25 points down to win 34-28 in overtime.

“That game will last forever,” he said.

Trump, who rode to office last year in a surprise election win over Hillary Clinton, linked himself to the Patriots as a perceived underdog.

“When the 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,” Trump said.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was not in attendance after announcing earlier in the day he had a personal conflict. Several other Patriots said they wouldn’t attend for political reasons.

At least 34 Patriots players were on site for the ceremony.

Trump worked some politics in, too, when he explained more about the election eve letter he read from Bill Belichick to a New Hampshire crowd last November.

Trump said Belichick originally wrote him a letter after Trump secured the Republican nomination and he asked the coach if he could read it to a crowd in New Hampshire.

“I said, ‘Coach do you mind if I read the letter tonight to a stadium full of people in an important state.’ He said, ‘You know what I’d rather not have you do that. Could you send it back to me? I’d rather send you another one.’ "

Trump said he expected Belichick to tone down the letter.

“You know what he did? He toned it way up," he said. "He made that the greatest letter.”

Belichick spoke during the ceremony but did not address the letter. He and Patriotsowner Robert Kraft met with Trump in the Oval Office before the ceremony.

Kraft made brief remarks and saluted Trump.

“It’s a distinct honor for us to celebrate what was unequivocally our sweetest championship with a very good friend and somebody whose mental toughness and strength I greatly admire,” he said.

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