Yesterday was the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ chance to visit President Joe Biden at the White House. These ceremonies are pablum, bland photo ops with a few kitschy moments. Unless the greatest quarterback of all-time is involved.
Speaking to the press and audience, Bucs QB Tom Brady made a few wise cracks to Biden’s delight. Speaking about his team’s victory, he said that probably 40 percent of people still think they didn’t win. Biden cheerily chirped in, “I understand that.” Later, Brady threw in a line about how people were calling him “Sleepy Tom,” an obvious reference to Donald Trump referring to Biden as Sleepy Joe. And Biden loved every second of it.
Brady: Not a lot of people think we could’ve won. In fact, I think about 40% of the people still don’t think we won
Biden: I understand that pic.twitter.com/0yNlu3d3Cn
— Acyn (@Acyn) July 20, 2021
Political Twitter caught fire as soon as the exchange happened. Brady is mostly apolitical, save for the time cameras captured a Make America Great Again hat in his locker back in 2015. That was when Trump’s campaign still felt more farcical than anything, but the backlash was swift. He never spoke about Trump again, even when asked. Naturally, though, the sports world simply assumed he was a Trump supporter. Based on his jokes at Trump’s expense on Tuesday, it seems like Brady might not support the former president after all.
But were the jokes at Trump’s expense?
Brady’s jokes turned into the perfect example of political dissonance. Many online Trump supporters assumed Brady was trolling Biden to his face, mentioning the people who didn’t believe the election results as a kind of shout out. Jokingly calling himself “Sleepy Tom,” as they saw it, was another way to insult Biden to his face. Non-Trump supporters, however, read it the opposite way—if anything, Brady was making Trump sound dumb. Regardless, it’s a credit to Brady’s skill in reading the field (quarterback joke). He knew his audience, Biden included, would love whatever he said. Keeping it light was the perfect play. The jokes weren’t knee slappers, either, regardless of who he directed them at. And they could easily read as cloaked insults if you wanted to hear them that way.
Brady toed the laughing with/laughing at line perfectly, and you have to assume it was on purpose. He’s simply too calculated a public figure not to know exactly what he’s doing. Brady won two Super Bowls while Trump was president and didn’t visit the White House either time. Visiting a new president with a new team is a statement in itself, even without the jokes.
Many on the right eventually saw Brady’s comments for what they almost assuredly were, though; saying Brady was the latest victim of woke culture. By mid-afternoon right wing media, especially Breitbart, was appropriately melting down. One editor went as far as calling the quarterback a backstabber whose comments were “disgusting,” which in the context of the video above and the event in general is as hilarious as it is absurd. Even a lighthearted White House appearance isn’t what it seems. Some jokes, like Brady’s, write themselves. Others are predictable angry tweets.