Tom Brady Jokes About Election Results as Buccaneers Visit White House

WASHINGTON — Until a few hours before kickoff, Tom Brady was questionable for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ celebration of their Super Bowl title at the White House. He was the most prolific winner of titles and decliner of presidential invitations in league history.

But when the band struck up and President Biden strode onto the South Lawn to meet the championship team, Mr. Brady, the quarterback and seven-time N.F.L. champion, was there, smiling in a dark suit and sunglasses, leading a small procession including his coach, his team’s owner and the commander in chief himself.

A few minutes later he was back in the spotlight, tossing off political jokes like slant routes, mostly targeting Mr. Biden’s predecessor, Donald J. Trump, a longtime friend of Mr. Brady’s.

Mr. Brady first needled Mr. Trump’s baseless claims that he actually won the 2020 presidential election, which many Trump supporters still believe. The quarterback said many people did not believe the Buccaneers could win the championship last year.

“I think about 40 percent of the people still don’t think we won,” Mr. Brady said.

“I understand that,” Mr. Biden said.

Mr. Brady turned to Mr. Biden. “You understand that, Mr. President?” he said.

Mr. Biden smiled. “I understand that,” he said again.

“Yeah,” Mr. Brady continued. “And personally, you know, it’s nice for me to be back here. We had a game in Chicago where I forgot what down it was. I lost track of one down in 21 years of playing, and they started calling me ‘Sleepy Tom.’ Why would they do that to me?”

Mr. Biden — whom Mr. Trump frequently called “Sleepy Joe” during the campaign — played along. “I don’t know,” he said.

Mr. Brady, 43, is the most accomplished signal caller in N.F.L. history. After leading the New England Patriots to six championships in his first two decades in the league, he quarterbacked Tampa Bay to a 31-9 Super Bowl victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in February, shortly after Mr. Biden was inaugurated. It earned him and his teammates a request to visit the president at the White House.

But as of Monday, White House officials could not say for sure if he planned to attend.

Mr. Brady missed several presidential team visits under Mr. Trump and President Barack Obama after winning previous Super Bowls. He last trekked to a White House title ceremony in 2005, when George W. Bush was in office. His attendance this time around was rumored on Monday, then confirmed by photos posted to social media on Tuesday morning.

Mr. Biden has in recent weeks also hosted the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers, as his administration revives a tradition of championship invites that had grown sporadic under Mr. Trump after many players boycotted the festivities. An N.F.L. champion last visited the White House in 2017.

On Tuesday, while Mr. Brady’s teammates stood on risers and baked in the heat of the White House lawn, the president praised the Bucs for their persistence in reeling off an unbeaten run to the championship after starting the season with seven wins and five losses.

“This is a team that didn’t fold, got up, dug deep,” the president said. “It’s an incredible run.”

He singled out Tampa Bay receiver Chris Godwin, who was born and raised in the same states as Mr. Biden. “Born in Pennsylvania, raised in Delaware,” the president said. “Where I come from, that’s a heck of a combination, man.”

The president could not resist sprinkling in a few stories of his own, less accomplished football career. And he could not resist ribbing Mr. Brady — and himself — about their ages.

“A lot has been made about the fact that we have the oldest coach ever to win a Super Bowl and the oldest quarterback to win the Super Bowl,” said Mr. Biden, who at 78 was the oldest person ever sworn in as president. “Well, I’ll tell you right now: You won’t hear any jokes about that from me. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with being the oldest guy to make it to the mountaintop.”

Eventually, Mr. Biden gave way to the team owner, Bryan Glazer, and coach, Bruce Arians, and then to Mr. Brady and his comedy routine.

When the laughter from the relatively small crowd on the lawn died down, Mr. Brady and the Buccaneers prepared to give the president a customary personalized jersey, with “Biden” across the back and the number 46, for Mr. Biden’s presidency. The band prepared to play Queen’s “We Are the Champions” while players, including the quarterback, posed for photos with onlookers including several Florida politicians.

But first Mr. Brady had one more joke, about how he planned to make the most of the remainder of his time at the White House.

“We’re going to challenge — 11 of us — 11 White House interns to game of football here on the lawn,” Mr. Brady said.

“And we intend to run it up on you guys, so get ready to go.”