The strange story of Donald Trump’s relationship with the New England Patriots just got a whole lot weirder.
The president has made much of his “friendships” with the Patriots’ three most prominent figures — team owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady — referencing them repeatedly both during his campaign and after he took office.
While Kraft and Brady have admitted to calling Trump a close personal friend, Belichick (surprise!) hasn’t been as forthcoming. But the Patriots coach likely will hear more questions about Trump after the comments that surfaced Wednesday.
In a piece on the Patriots and Trump for the New York Times Magazine, author Mark Leibovich relayed this bizarre story the current president told him in 2015 about about meeting Belichick on the sideline the previous year:
“So I go to the Patriots game last year,” Trump said. “I’m on the sidelines with Kraft. He’s got (CBS CEO) Les Moonves right here. He’s got a lot of different people. And Belichick comes over in his Patriots sweatshirt and the hoodie and the whole thing. He hugs me, and he kisses me, and he said: ‘I love you. You’re the greatest.’” Trump sat at his cluttered desk and seemed almost dreamy at the memory, as if the reception from Belichick genuinely moved him. “He just feels warmly toward me, Belichick does,” Trump said. “Isn’t that the craziest thing?”
That seems like a pretty far departure from the Belichick we know.
As Deadspin points out, the validity of Trump’s comments are in question: He suggests the meeting happened in 2014, and there’s no photographic or written documentation of Trump attending a Patriots game since 2012. He also could be exaggerating their interaction, regardless of when it happened.
Either way, Trump’s odd recollection probably won’t help to quiet the noise around Belichick and Co. as they prepare for Super Bowl LI.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images