President Barack Obama namedropped Tom Brady at a Labor Day event in Boston to stress the importance of unions. But the president did so after crossing the picket lines of non-striking workers of two important public-employee unions protesting his event at the Park Plaza Hotel near Boston Common.
“Even Brady’s happy he’s got a union,” Obama told the union leaders present. “They had his back. You know if Brady needs a union, we definitely need unions.”
But the New England Police Benevolent Association and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) workers protesting the president’s event said they need Obama to have their backs. The MBTA workers object to increased privatization and the policemen believe the president avoids publicly supporting law enforcement even with officers targeted for execution.
Like the bus drivers and cops who missed the Labor Day breakfast, the New England Patriots quarterback skipped a trip to meet Obama earlier this year after winning the Super Bowl. The quarterback, a relatively apolitical figure who nevertheless displayed a Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker late last week, cited personal reasons for missing the White House event that he had attended when his team won Super Bowls during the George W. Bush presidency.
The president’s press secretary had ridiculed Brady in January. “The one thing I can tell you is that for years it has been clear that there is no risk that I would take Tom Brady’s job as quarterback of the New England Patriots,” Josh Earnest said in the aftermath of a disastrous Brady press conference addressing Deflategate. “But I can tell you that as of today it it is pretty clear that there is no risk of him taking my job, either.”
Bill Belichick, Bob Kraft, and even members of the Super Bowl roster lost to free agency attended the April event.
“I usually tell a bunch of jokes at these events, but with the Patriots in town, I was worried that 11 out of 12 of them would fall flat,” Obama quipped at the event for the New England Patriots. “All right, all right, all right, that whole story got blown a little out of proportion.”
On Monday, amid the references to the local quarterback (which came amid more references to Brady by other speakers), the president announced an executive order mandating more paid sick leave for contractors working on federal projects. The Boston audience at the event sponsored by the AFL-CIO cheered the president’s announcement nearly as enthusiastically as the audience 20-miles south cheers Tom Brady.
Brady looks to follow up last Thursday’s NFL Players Association victory in court over the NFL to conclude the Deflategate case (for now!) with a victory at Gillette Stadium this Thursday over the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers to kick off the league’s 2015 season.