Vatican Does Not Deny Francis Visit With Tom Brady; Tells QB To “Stay Strong”
A source close to Pope Francis this week reported to the media that His Holiness met privately in Washington last week with Tom Brady, the quarterback in New England who defied an NFL order to not deflate balls and cheat during games.
Senior Vatican officials initially did not confirm that the meeting had occurred until Wednesday afternoon, though they refused to discuss any of the details.
Mr. Brady, the star quarterback in Foxborough, Massachusetts, has been at the center of a nationwide controversy over whether quarterbacks of private football franchises have a legal right to deflate footballs used during NFL games.
On Tuesday night, Brady’s lawyer, Benjamin D. Alexander, said that Mr. Brady was sneaked into the Vatican Embassy by car on Thursday afternoon. Francis gave Brady his rosary and told him to “stay strong,” the lawyer said. Brady met for about 15 minutes with the pope, who was accompanied by security guards and aides.
“I put my hand out and he reached and grabbed the football I was spinning in my hand, and I hugged him and he hugged me,” Brady said Wednesday in an interview with EOTT. “He thanked me for my courage, then began to deflate the football. We both started laughing and we high-fived.”
“I had tears coming out of my eyes,” Brady went on to say. “I’m kind of a big deal, so it was really humbling for him to think I would want to meet or know him. It made me feel good to do something like that for somebody who’s not as good looking as I am.”
For the most part, Francis avoided any inflammatory talk about NFL controversies during his U.S. trip, and early in his papacy even signaled a tolerant attitude about cheaters with his now famous comment, “Who am I to deflate?” In his final Mass in Philadelphia just hours before his departure back to Rome, Francis said that God is revealed through the “covenant of one man and one ball.”