Donald Trump’s fandom of the Patriots, a 3-act Twitter story

Let's take it back to the very beginning.

Donald Trump talks to Tom Brady prior to a 2004 playoff game.
Donald Trump talks to Tom Brady prior to a 2004 playoff game. –Elise Amendola / AP

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President Donald Trump has had a longcurious relationship with professional football. Perhaps nowhere else has that been as fully on display than in Trump’s 15 years of public admiration for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

According to Brady, he met the future president at a beauty pageant in 2002 after his winning his first Super Bowl and developed a golf-centric friendship. That friendship became a lot more awkward — both for Brady and for some fans — as Trump increasingly became more involved in politics.

For the first time in years, Brady and Trump are set to appear together in person Wednesday when the Patriots visit the White House. Trump is expected to congratulate the team on their historic Super Bowl LI comeback victory. But Trump has long rained praise on Brady and the team from afar — on his preferred method of communication: Twitter.

Part 1: Just another fan

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The signs of Trump’s fandom of the Patriots first appeared on Twitter before a 2012 game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium, which Trump attended in person.

“Major grudge match this weekend between @nyjets & @Patriots,” he tweeted. “I have a dilemma, I am good friends w/ both Woody Johnson & Bob Kraft–two amazing men.”

Despite his conflicted feelings, Trump ultimately appeared to enjoy the experience.

Trump’s social media fandom continued on fairly uncontroversially for some time, with the then-real estate mogul and reality TV star benignly tweeting well wishes and congratulations at the team.

Before a regular season Monday night game against the Houston Texans, Trump accidentally tweeted “Good luck” to Patriots owner and longtime friend Robert Kraft and coach “Bob” Belichick.

Trump lated deleted and corrected the tweet, which he blamed on “some dope.”

Trump even endorsed the team’s short-lived offseason signing of former college football star Tim Tebow in 2013.

Tebow was cut less than a week later. Trump would eventually return to congratulating Brady after games.

Part 2: Deflategate crusader

Trump’s tone became more activist, however, after the Patriots became embroiled in the infamously prolonged Deflategate controversy. At first he stood behind the team and Belichick — and took tremendous glee in the Super Bowl XLIX victory.

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After a few months of dormancy, Trump erupted in support of Brady following the May 6 release of the Wells Report, which found it was “more probable than not” that the quarterback “was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities.”

Following the initial announcement of Brady’s four-game suspension, the soon-to-be presidential candidate made compared the fiasco to another never-ending controversy.

Trump soon joined the many Patriots fans claiming that the NFL was engaged in a witch hunt against Brady, and urged the quarterback to sue the league.

On June 16, 2015, Trump announced his campaign for the presidency.

Part 3: Do you guys know I know Tom Brady?

As Trump’s campaign progressed (and as the all-important New Hampshire primary loomed), the candidate seemed to shift back to congratulating Brady — and reminding followers of the relationship he shared with the quarterback.

Amid the tweets, Trump repeatedly name-dropped Brady at rallies across New England throughout the presidential campaign.

“I have so many great friends in New England, including Tom Brady and Coach Belichick. How good is Tom? Remember last year, he had the red hats?” he said at a New Hampshire rally last October, referring to the Trump hat that was spotted in Brady’s locker a year earlier.

During another New Hampshire rally on the eve of the general election, Trump claimed that Brady voted for him and read aloud a supportive letter written to him by Belichick.

“Tom Brady, great guy, great friend of mine, great, great champion, unbelievable winner,” Trump said of Brady at the rally.

Of course, 2016 turned out to be a pretty successful year for both Trump and the Patriots. And while the president has presumably been too occupied with other responsibilities to tweet about the football team, he did have time for one more congratulatory tweet the night of their Super Bowl LI win.

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