President Donald Trump predicted that the New England Patriots would defeat the Atlanta Falcons in Sunday's Super Bowl, a result that would bring a fifth NFL championship for head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.
In an exclusive interview on the Fox network's Super Bowl pregame show, Trump told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that he thought the Patriots would win "by eight points."
"I like [Patriots owner] Bob Kraft, I like Coach Belichick, and Tom Brady’s my friend," said Trump, who later added, "Tom's a winner."
Trump did not mention the Falcons or quarterback Matt Ryan by name, but said they were a "fantastic team."
"You know, there’s less pressure on the Patriots because they’ve been there," the president said. "You know, once you’ve won, and you’ve done it, and they’ve done it, once you’ve done it there’s a lot less pressure. So we’ll see what happens but you know you have to stick up for your friends."
The three most visible figures on the Patriots all have ties to Trump. Kraft told The New York Times last month that he and Trump have known each other for two decades, while Belichick wrote Trump a letter which the GOP candidate read to a crowd in New Hampshire late in the campaign.
Brady has been more circumspect in discussing his relationship with Trump ever since a "Make America Great" again hat was found in his locker during the 2015 season.
"Um, I have called him, yes, in the past," Brady told a Boston radio station after advancing to his seventh Super Bowl with New England. "“Sometimes he calls me. Sometimes I call him. But, again, that's been someone that I've known. I always try to keep it in context because for 16 years you know someone before maybe he was in the position that he was in. He's been very supportive of me for a long time. It's just a friendship. I have a lot of friends. I call a lot of people."
"Why does everybody make such a big deal? I don’t understand it," Brady asked later in the conversation.