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President Donald Trump will likely have a lot of interest in the results of this year's Super Bowl match-up between his beloved New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, which hail from Democratic Congressman John Lewis' neck of the woods.
The new commander-in-chief has long-held an affinity for professional football, frequently bringing it up on the campaign trail, once even suggesting he wouldn't be running had his dream of owning an NFL franchise come true, and lamenting the fact that the game isn't as violent as it used to be.
But Trump has shown a special place in his heart for the Patriots, touting the still-unconfirmed endorsement of their star quarterback Tom Brady (whose alleged role in 'Deflate-gate,' the president has vehemently refuted), the backing of their coach Bill Belichick (who wrote Trump a letter of support) and approval from the team's owner Robert Kraft (who calls the president a "very close friend," and has contributed to politicians on both sides of the aisle).
The fact that they are facing Atlanta, the city Lewis calls home and represents, should also entice Trump.
The president and the civil rights icon feuded for several days earlier this month, after the Congressman said he didn't consider the then president-elect's victory "legitimate" in part because of Russian interference in the election.
Trump responded by attacking Lewis and his Atlanta-based district personally, going so far as to call it "crime-infested," a description that has been widely disputed by residents and the press. The Super Bowl could provide an intriguing platform for the city to strike back via a proxy foe, the Patriots.
Although, in last year's general election, the New England region went entirely for Trump's opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, with every county in Massachusetts (where the team is based) going blue.
That irony was not lost on SB Nation writer Charlotte Wilder, who wrote earlier this month about the discomfort some Patriots fans feel with the leadership of the team being so cozy with the polarizing 45th president.
"I think the majority [of fans] obviously are not upset about it," she told NBC News. "After I wrote the piece I got a ton of online harassment for it, but I also got hundreds of emails saying 'thank you for writing this.'"
According to Wilder, no matter which side you fall on politically, there is no question that the link to Trump is on the minds of those who both love and loathe the Patriots franchise.
"It's part of their narrative for sure," said Wilder, who believes that the president is attracted to the team because: "The Patriots are winners and Donald Trump is obsessed with winning."
"The Patriots are all about loyalty too, and so is Trump," she added.
Sportswriter Tom Curran has theorized that it is a misplaced sense of loyalty which has compelled the usually apolitical Brady to allow himself to be a political football for Trump.
Brady, who is poised to win a record fifth Super Bowl should his Patriots emerge victorious on February 5th, has repeatedly dodged questions about whether he approves of Trump's controversial rhetoric of if he voted for him in November. He had said it would be "great" if Trump won, repeatedly called the president a "good friend" who has offered him unsolicited encouragement for over a decade, and one of the Republican's signature "Make America Great Again" hats has been spotted in his NFL locker.
Meanwhile, Trump recently boasted that he got a personal call from Brady congratulating him for his surprise electoral victory:
Their friendship reportedly began when Trump tapped Brady to be a judge for one of his Miss USA beauty pageants in 2002. Ever since Trump has lavished praise on the quarterback, not just for being a prodigious "winner" on the football field, but for being a sex symbol as well.
“If one thing stands out about Tom Brady,” Trump told Sports Illustrated in 2002, “it’s that he loves those women. And guess what? They love him, too.”
The two became regular golfing buddies, but Brady (as well as Belichick and Kraft) has never been as comfortable hyping their relationship as the president is.
“I’ve been in an organization where we’re taught to say very little,” Brady told local Boston radio station WEEI last October when asked about Trump's infamous "locker room talk" defense of 2005 remarks he made which appeared to condone sexual assault.
"We have respect for our opponents and we don’t do the trash-talking. The thing I’ve always thought is, 'I don’t want to be a distraction for the team.' That’s what my goal is. Not that there are things I’ve said and done that haven’t been, but you try not to be."
But, his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, has not been as coy.
On the eve of Election Day, she emphatically denied that she or her husband would be voting for the real estate mogul the following day.
And just this past Sunday, Bundchen appeared to show solidarity with women's marches around the country (which were widely perceived as anti-Trump) by sharing an image on social media from one of the protests of a sign that including a quote from Clinton's concession speech:
"What a powerful moment. May we continue to march together always leading with love, compassion,understanding, grace and peace," Bundchen wrote.
She also, according to Brady, told him not to "talk about politics anymore."
Still, that shouldn't stop Trump, whose penchant for tweeting about pop cultural events he's emotionally invested in has not abated since he won the presidency, from weighing in and rooting for his preferred football team on Super Bowl Sunday.
"I can't really speculate," said Wilder. "[But] I would be surprised if the Patriots won and he didn't say anything."