Let me start this off by saying that you can be a fan of the New England Patriots without supporting Donald Trump. You may also be a Trump supporters who feel the New England Patriots are the worst part of football. Opinions work that way. You are entitled to your own and do not need to disclose that information unless you feel the urge to do so.
You can even be a fan of football and be disinterested in politics. You are allowed to know nothing about the President of the United States but everything about the yards per carry of James White. The Patriots and Trump are two of the most polarizing topics on the national forefront today, and nothing you feel about them individually requires a parallel thought about the other.
What can’t be ignored is the fact that both Donald Trump and the New England Patriots have had their names in the same sentences dating back to the Fall of 2015, and this should matter to everyone more than it currently does.
“Tom Brady is a great friend of mine. He’s a winner and he likes winners.” – Trump, March 2016
It all ‘started’ with the image above.
In the Fall of 2015 Tom Brady spoke to the media outside his locker in Gillette Stadium with a ‘Make America Great’ hat visible in the corner. It was calculated, it was placed, and it was significant.
While many feel this hat was strategically inserted to signify a friendship that was starting to boom, it was actually closer to representing the type of brand association a recently-declared Donald Trump was using his long-time friend Tom Brady for in a crucial moment of his campaign.
Branding, or the art of creating an emotion your name or logo becomes associated with, is one of the biggest strengths our President possesses. Since he first began boasting about wealth and power in his youth, Donald was formulating what the name Trump was going to mean to those who prefer their opinions handed to them. The questions of ‘how much money’ or tangible numbers mattered not to those who had been associating Trump with wealth since the first time they heard the name. Think of Trump, and imagine the massive golden hotels, the intricate casinos, the sheer beauty of what was created in his name. Donald Trump, what a rich man.
If you remember that speech from the Fall of 2015, when Donald Trump declared his campaign as active for the Presidential Nomination, the headlines surrounding it honed in on a hard stance regarding immigration (he called Mexicans rapists) and a promise to make our nation what it used to be.
Professional athletes like Tom Brady completely understand the value of branding and creating a profitable image, so the idea that this could have been coincidence will not be respected in this piece. Brady knew exactly what he was doing at a very crucial time to the Trump campaign.
Trump needed legitimization, and what better way to portray yourself a winner than get the ringing endorsement of a man known by all as just that. Tom Brady, for the past 15 years, has become synonymous with greatness and consistent success through commitment, hard work, and persistence. Brady acknowledges the brand he has created in this Under Armour commercial from 2016, where he wears the number of his famously low NFL Draft selection and repeats the same grueling process, which we can assume leads him to the live success we see each Sunday.
If this had been the only contribution to the Trump campaign conducted by members of the New England Patriots, there would be nothing to see here. One athlete making one calculated product placement during a crucial time is enough for a headline, but not enough to propel a candidate to victory. That was not the case.
When Donald Trump made the ‘Locker Room Talk’ comment in October of last year, Tom Brady refused to denounce the words. Then, the immediate Monday afterwards, he appeared on Boston Sports Radio and spoke about how ‘Donald has been my friend for 16 years’ and again chose to place his brand in the firing line for someone he openly supported, even through the lowest moments.
For those who don’t get their news through twitter, who value football every Sunday over the evening news, and hold Tom in the highest regard, these comments from Trump were brushed aside due to the swift action of his good friend, and trustworthy, Tom Brady.
At this point, we have potentially the two biggest obstacles in the Donald Trump campaign trail belittled with the help of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
As mentioned before, the power of branding can’t be overstated. Ask your local Instagram model or aspiring youtube sensation. You must create something that resonates with an audience, allows them to trust what you provide as entertaining or worthwhile, and eventually put their money where their mouth is and support you.
That is exactly what Donald Trump has done, and continues to do, with the Super Bowl bound New England Patriots.
Trump reading Bill Belichick’s letter of support pic.twitter.com/ZE6QCYxiUh
— Blake Montgomery (@blakersdozen) November 8, 2016
The above video was taken by a member of the audience during Donald Trump’s final speech before election day. That’s right, the very night before the ruler of our national would be decided, Donald Trump stood on a podium and recited words written to him by the greatest football coach in American history.
The beginning of a presidential campaign needs a propulsion in order to separate a candidate from the rest of the pack. Then, during a campaign, there will come a time where all hope seems lost and you need a strong backing from someone respected nationally. Finally, right before the curtain pulls behind a voter, you need something to tap them on the back of the brain and say “This guy could be the one, look who supports him.”
In all three of those instances, the New England Patriots were there to lend a helping hand. The ‘no distractions’ motto recited time and time again by the one coach who seems a walking embodiment of the word ‘calculated’ was disregarded for what? For the aiding in the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.
As previously mentioned, the idea that the world is ending or this is somehow a condemnation of the Patriots or Donald Trump is soaked in a pot of overreaction and pessimism. This is not the worst thing to ever happen to America, nor is it the best thing. It is another President taking office in a nation seemingly small enough to exist on our phones, but too large to drive in one day. Things happen you might not always agree with, but we carry on all the same.
What this is meant to portray is the level of cross-promotion both Trump and the Patriots were comfortable performing in tandem with one another. For whatever reason, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady felt their assistance of Donald Trump was necessary and essential to whatever cause they are pursuing. If it isn’t as complicated as that, then the New England Patriots aren’t as smart as we thought they were.
It’s a seemingly huge risk to legitimize a candidate maligned by so many, when your entire profession is under constant scrutiny by often times those same members of society who despise your selection. It makes no sense unless there was a direct motive to do so. Bill Belichick is a lot of things, but reactionary or impulsive is not one of them.
When it came down to it, America voted Donald Trump as the next President of the United States with the ringing endorsement of the “most hated team in American sports” still echoing in living rooms across the country.
Ask yourself this, America.
Do you really hate the Patriots? Or do you hate that they aren’t your team. Because when election time rolled around…
The brand spoke for itself.
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