President Donald Trump honored the New England Patriots at the White House Wednesday for its historic Super Bowl win — the same day former player Aaron Fernandez was found dead inside his Massachusetts prison cell.
Trump, a Patriots fan who is close to owner Robert Kraft, received his own Super Bowl LI helmet and jersey during the event, which quarterback Tom Brady skipped at the last minute, citing “personal family matters.”
“With your backs against the wall … and the pundits saying you couldn’t do it, you pulled off the greatest Super Bowl comeback of all time,” Trump said during his remarks, in which he declined to mention the star quarterback.
: patriots pic.twitter.com/S3W5tnCy2B
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) April 19, 2017
Trump later likened their victory to his own surprise November election win — and Kraft swiftly returned the praise, calling the president “mentally tough and hardworking as anybody I know.”
Before their remarks, notorious Patriots prankster Rob Gronkowski stayed true to his antics when he crashed a White House press briefing with Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
“Sean, need any help?” he joked.
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Hernandez was found unresponsive in his cell at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts, about 3 a.m. Wednesday, according to a statement from the state Department of Correction.