Bill Belichick: Friendship, loyalty, and football trump politics

The New England Patriots coach says his relationships with political figures, including president-elect Trump and Secretary of State John Kerry, are about friendship not politics.

Bill Wippert/AP
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick walks the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Oct. 30. in Orchard Park, N.Y.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday the letter he wrote to Donald Trump before Election Day was done out of a friendship that goes back many years and was not politically motivated, while Tom Brady said he preferred to focus on football and wouldn't elaborate on his relationship with him.

Mr. Belichick addressed the letter during a regularly scheduled news conference held hours after the billionaire businessman was elected president and two days after he read it aloud at a campaign rally in New Hampshire.

The letter congratulated president-elect Trump on his campaign and praised him for overcoming "slanted and negative media" to "come out beautifully." But Belichick said he writes hundreds of notes every month and that it "doesn't mean I agree with every single thing that every person thinks about politics, religion or other subjects. But I have multiple friendships that are important to me, and that's what that was about. So it's not about politics. It's about football."

At the same campaign rally Monday, Trump alluded to a phone conversation with Mr. Brady in which he said the quarterback offered his support. Brady wouldn't confirm or deny that Wednesday.

"I'm just going to talk about football this week," Brady said. "I talked to my wife, she said I can't talk about politics anymore. I think that's a good decision made for our family."

But when pressed, he went a little further.

"I just want to focus on Seattle," he said. "I have a lot of relationships with a lot of people in the press and I don't think a lot of people are entitled to what my conversations are with friends of mine or people I may speak with."

Belichick reiterated that his comments were not about making a political stance.

"I think anybody that's spent more than five minutes with me knows I'm not a political person," Belichick said. "My comments are not politically motivated. I have a friendship and loyalty to Donald. A couple of weeks ago we had Secretary of State (John) Kerry in our locker room. He's another friend of mine. I can't imagine two people with more different political views than those two. But to me, friendship and loyalty are just about that. It's not about political or religious views."

Kerry visited the Patriots' locker room when they played at Pittsburgh on Oct. 23.

"I have multiple friendships that are important to me and that's what that was about," Belichick said. "So it's not about politics, it's about football."

When Belichick was asked follow-up questions about the letter and whether it caused any division in New England's locker room, he repeated "Seattle" five times, referencing that the team is focused on preparing for Sunday's game against the Seahawks.

"We got a huge game this week against a great football team, and a great organization," he said. "And that's where it all is going forward. On Seattle."

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