Donald Trump has made no secret of his friendship with and admiration for New England Patriots star Tom Brady.
But at a rally in Buffalo on Monday night, the Republican presidential candidate said he would be rooting for a division rival this year, according to ESPN.
“I’ll tell you, with a great, great coach, you’re going to have a great team this year,” Trump said to the audience of Buffalo Bills fans. “And I’m going to be rooting for the Buffalo Bills this year. Believe me.”
Trump’s speech, held a day before New Yorkers vote in the state’s presidential primary, was introduced by Bills coach Rex Ryan, who lauded Trump’s “courage” to speak his mind.
In turn, Trump praised Ryan’s coaching and public speaking ability.
“What about Rex? What about Rex?” Trump said. “I think he’s a very good speaker. He says he doesn’t do this [public speaking]. I’ll tell you what he is: He’s a great, great football coach. Great football coach, and a great guy. And I want to thank Rex and [his wife] Michelle. Amazing.”
Trump also incorrectly said Ryan had won the AFC championship twice as coach of the New York Jets.
“He won the championships in New York, AFC, I think twice,” Trump said. “He always had these teams that were brutal. They were just good. Great defense. And I’ve been watching, and I’ll tell you, you’re gonna have a very, very good season this year, you watch. It’s going to be good, and it’s because you have a good coach, you really do. And he’s also a terrific guy.”
Ryan twice reached the AFC Championship game, but lost both times, most recently in the 2010 season. He has not coached a team to the playoffs in the five seasons since then.
Trump’s wavering support in the AFC East may come as a surprise to Tom Brady and Patriots fans. Trump has repeatedly cited Brady’s support and friendship in his campaign, particularly in Massachusetts.
Congratulations to Tom Brady on yet another great victory- Tom is my friend and a total winner!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2015
“Donald is a good friend of mine. I have known him for a long time,” Brady said. “I support all my friends in everything they do.”
The Bills and Patriots play in Foxborough on October 2.