WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden welcomed 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.
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 Donald Trump.
The Patriots as a team chose not to attend after winning in 2019.
Brady was front and center, accompanying Biden, coach Bruce Arians and owner Bryan Glazer into the ceremony, which included jokes about age and the election and a push from the president for players to get vaccinated against the coronavirus if they hadn’t already.
Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champion, put on quite the comedy routine, comparing the Buccaneers’ run to Biden’s election victory.
“Not a lot of people think that we could have won, and in fact I think about 40 percent of the people still don’t think we won,” Brady said with a big grin. “We had a game in Chicago where I forgot what down it was. I lost track of one down in 21 years of playing, and they started calling me ‘Sleepy Tom.’ Why [would] they do that to me?”
Biden was presented with the traditional gift of a No. 46 jersey — which Glazer said was appropriate since Tampa Bay is heading into its 46th season as a franchise.
Players Donovan Smith and Bradley Pinion from the team’s social justice committee met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday morning to talk about voting rights.
Talking about how nearly 200,000 vaccine doses were given out at Raymond James Stadium — the Buccaneers’ home and where they won the Super Bowl — Biden turned to dozens of players behind him and said: “If you don’t have a shot, get one, OK? Get one, get one, get one. You’re saving lives, helping us get back to our lives and our loved ones.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not directly answer when asked if the Buccaneers provided information on which team attendees were vaccinated. As of Friday, 10 NFL teams had reached the threshold of 85 percent of their traveling party fully vaccinated, though it was not immediately clear if Tampa Bay was one of them.
Before Brady took the microphone, Arians told Biden he wished the House and Senate would help the president fulfill “one goal” as a country, like his Buccaneers did last season.
Biden singled out receiver Chris Godwin, like himself Pennsylvania-born and Delaware-raised, who he spoke with before the Super Bowl. As the oldest person to become president, he 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,” Biden said. “As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with being the oldest guy to make it to the mountaintop.”
Story by Steven Whyno, Associated Press