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Super Bowl LI Became a Political Football, From Martellus Bennett Boycotting White House to the Ads

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Five Ways the Super Bowl Was Crazily Political
Tom Brady of the New England Patriots raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017, in Houston, Texas. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)


We’re going to guess that you were one of the hundreds of millions of television viewers that was glued to the Super Bowl last night—whether for the game or the halftime show featuring Lady Gaga, rocking that diamond diaper and conducting a chorus of drones.

The New England Patriots, evil geniuses as they are, certainly provided plenty of drama with one of the greatest comeback victories of all time.

But even in a game that broke 31 individual records there was no real four-hour refuge from the current political climate that has divided so many Americans. RealClearLife has rounded up the five most obvious ways:


Trump-Patriots Connection Alienates One of the Team’s Players

The Patriots went into last night’s game not only as favorites to win the game, but also a favorite of President Donald Trump. Brady endorsed Trump early on in his presidential campaign (see above) and sported a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker. Trump apparently also had the support of Coach Bill Belichick and owner Bob Kraft. We’re also going to take a wild guess that former President Reagan/H.W. Bush cabinet member James Baker and current Vice President Mike Pence, who were sitting together in a luxury box at the game, were rooting for the Pats.
That connection angered enough Democrats to mobilize a larger-than-normal Falcons cheering section.

Not all the Patriots were on the same team off the field: New England tight end Martellus Bennett noted that he’ll skip the traditional post-championship White House visit because of his disagreements with the president on the Black Lives Matter debate.



Coin Toss

Speaking of Former President George H.W. Bush, it was pretty emotional seeing him and his wife, Barbara—who had both been discharged from the hospital just days before—out on the field for the honorary coin toss. Obviously, the two were lifelong Texans, so it made perfect sense for them to play a starring role at the Houston Texans’ home stadium.

Five Ways Last Nights Super Bowl Was Political
President George H.W. Bush arrives for the coin toss prior to Super Bowl 51 between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)



Super Bowl Ads

Last week, RCL published a preview of the upcoming commercials, but a few that we didn’t include became today’s water-cooler conversations. That includes 84 Lumber’s controversial spot, from which the company had to cut out a reference to Trump’s wall on the Mexican border for Fox to even air (watch the uncut version above). Even the watered-down version’s message was clear: The company was diving headlong into the immigration debate. Airbnb tackled the same issue, with a particularly subtle ad, featuring only their logo at the end; as did Budweiser. And finally, Audi produced an ad that had a particularly political bent to it, wading into the debate about equal pay.



Social Chatter

You basically can’t avoid social media during the Super Bowl, and Twitter got pretty political, right from the opening kickoff. Below, take at five tweets from throughout (and after) the game.



—Will Levith for RealClearLife