In this photo taken April 19, 2017, President Donald Trump is presented with a New England Patriots jersey from Patriots owner Robert Kraft during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, where the Patriots were honored for their Super Bowl LI victory. An ESPN report says Trump intervened in the Spygate investigation in 2008. Susan Walsh/Associated Press

The Patriots have been well connected with former President Donald Trump over the years. Trump’s relationship with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady has been well documented. From Brady putting a Trump hat in his locker to Belichick writing Trump a letter of support for his campaign in 2016, there’s been a blend of sports and politics between the two parties.

It turns out the relationship goes back even further.

On Wednesday, ESPN reported that Trump tried to help Kraft with the Patriots’ Spygate controversy that happened 14 years ago. The long piece alleges that Trump tried to stop the late Arlen Spector from pursuing an investigation into the Patriots signal-stealing controversy.

Since the Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX , Spector, a long-time Pennsylvania senator, called for an independent investigation to see how many games the Patriots illegally videotaped.

This ESPN story reports that Spector told his ghostwriter, Charles Robbin, that someone contacted him, offering money if he “laid off the Patriots,” but refused to name the person.

Shown in 2009, former Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., called for an independent investigation into the NFL and the Patriots in 2007 after the Spygate scandal. Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Spector’s son, Shanin, however, told ESPN that it was Trump and it was on the behalf of the Patriots owner.

“My father told me that Trump was acting as a messenger for Kraft,” Shanin Specter told ESPN.com. “But I’m equally sure the reference to money in Palm Beach was campaign contributions, not cash. The offer was Kraft assistance with campaign contributions. … My father said it was Kraft’s offer, not someone else’s.”

Both Trump and Kraft deny the allegations or any involvement in trying to stop Spector’s investigation.

“This is completely false,” said Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump, told ESPN. “We have no idea what you’re talking about.”

A Patriots spokesperson also told ESPN that Kraft never asked Trump to talk to Spector on his behalf.

“Mr. Kraft is not aware of any involvement of Trump on this topic and he did not have any other engagement with Specter or his staff,” the spokesman told ESPN via email.

In 2007, the NFL ended up taking away a Patriots first-round draft pick. The team was also fined $250,000 and Belichick was fined $500,000. By 2008, Spector wanted a deeper NFL investigation into the matter and wondered if there was a link to the Patriots scandal and their Super Bowl victory over the Eagles.

ESPN reports that Spector and Trump had a friendship and spent time together in Palm Beach and Trump called him when the senator started to look into the Patriots controversy. The conversation is written about in Spector’s 2012 book, but Trump isn’t mentioned by name.

Trump’s history with the Patriots came to the forefront during his 2016 presidential campaign. That year, Belichick wrote Trump a letter of support and Trump read it out loud during a campaign rally in New Hampshire. At that time, Brady even had a red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat in his locker. He later explained he started to golf with Trump back in 2002.

Then in 2017, the Patriots visited Trump at the White House following their Super Bowl LI victory. The team, however, didn’t go back after beating the Los Angeles Rams in 2019. Last year, Trump even appointed Belichick to his Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition for the second time.

However, things did change during Trump’s four years as President. In January, Belichick announced he wouldn’t accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the then President.

Belichick explained that after violence erupted at the U.S. Capitol, he decided to decline the honor, saying, “One of the most rewarding things in my professional career took place in 2020 when, through the great leadership within our team, conversations about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the forefront and became actions. Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweigh the benefits of any individual award.”


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