SAUL LOEB

Gronk enjoyed himself, though.

The Trump era’s first championship-winning team’s White House visit is in the books, as the New England Patriots, a franchise whose excellence at winning Super Bowls is matched only by their fanbase’s collective insufferableness, spent the afternoon palling around with your esteemed Commander-in-Chief. All things considered, the event was reasonably low-key, an outcome that no doubt had a lot to do with the fact that what felt like half the dang team conveniently found things to do other than make the trip.

Plenty of players publicly announced in advance their reasons for skipping the event, but the first name on that list is the most notable one. Even though Brady’s initial support for Trump eventually morphed into a state of tepid, smarmy “Can’t we just talk about sports?” faux-neutrality once it became clear that it wasn’t commercially desirable for him to maintain a public friendship with a misogynist buffoon, the two have been close for years. Brady cited “personal family matters” as the reason for his absence, later revealing that he’s spending the day with his mom, who continues to battle cancer. This is, of course, an exceptionally good excuse, but Trump seemed to take the news personally, failing to even say Brady’s name during his remarks, which seems like a difficult thing for anyone, let alone one of the quarterback’s purported good friends, to do when talking about the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory.

One gentleman who did attend and enjoy himself, though, was Rob Gronkowski, a man who cares less about the identity of the White House’s occupant than he does about the ready availability of vodka shots in its kitchen facilities.

After the team assembled on the South Lawn, the president’s speech was extremely on-brand, if also mercifully short. He went on for awhile about that weird Belichick-Brady endorsement from back in November, and worked in a lazy jab-by-analogy at election prognosticators and sports naysayers alike (“With your backs against the wall, and the pundits—good ol’ pundits, boy, they’re wrong a lot, aren’t they?—saying you couldn’t do it and the game was over, you pulled off the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all time.”) He also called out Danny Amendola by name, complimenting him for hauling in a crucial fourth-down conversion, but that immediately got awkward when he realized Amendola wasn’t there, either. Trump also omitted any mention of the fact that he left his Super Bowl party early when the Pats were down 28-3 because he, too, thought the “game was over.”

From there, franchise owner Robert Kraft, who is also a longtime Trump fan, delivered a short speech that somehow managed to tie together the election, the Super Bowl, and 9/11; Trump got his requisite Pats helmet and personalized jersey; and everyone managed to have a decent-enough time before going their separate, merry ways.

We feel you, Jonathan Jones. We feel you.

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