President Joe Biden is set to welcome the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the White House on Tuesday, including star quarterback Tom Brady, who has opted out of previous trips to the White House during his storied career.
The appearance, in conjunction with the ceremony held earlier this month for the World Series-winning Los Angeles Dodgers, signifies the demise of the culture wars that surrounded similar White House events during the Trump years.
Brady garnered heat during the 2016 presidential election campaign for displaying then-candidate Donald Trump’s signature red “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker while playing for the New England Patriots. He also made several comments supportive of Trump, though he also claimed they were taken out of context.
The two were friendly for years, well before Trump’s entrance into national politics, as well as periodic golf partners. The former president also has a relationship with Patriots owner Robert Kraft and longtime head coach Bill Belichick, though the latter spurned Trump’s offer of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Brady , who has won seven Super Bowls during his 20-year career, declined to join his Patriot teammates on their visit to the White House in 2017. At the time he cited “personal family matters” for the decision, which reportedly angered Trump.
Brady also skipped out on a White House visit during Barack Obama’s presidency for a similar reason.
Florida Agriculture Comissioner Nikki Fried, the only Democrat who holds statewide elected office is running to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis, posted a photo on Twitter of herself at the White House alongside Brady.
Though a number of championship-winning athletes have declined invitations to the White House, generally due to political differences with the sitting president, the symbolic event became a political football during Trump’s term.
Trump waged a prolonged campaign against professional football players and others who knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice, going so far as to disinvite the Philadelphia Eagles less than a day before they were set to arrive in 2018.
He likewise disinvited NBA star Stephen Curry and his Golden State Warriors teammates after Curry signaled that he would not participate in the championship ceremony. The Warriors still visited Washington, D.C., in early 2018 and toured the National Museum of African American History and Culture instead.