New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has long been a supporter of Donald Trump, but his latest attacks on NFL players who dare to exercise their First Amendment rights seem to have finally gone too far. Brady and Trump have been personal friends for years, but this was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back.
On Sunday, Brady liked an Instagram photo of the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and three of his teammates kneeling. When it came time for Brady’s own game, he stood arm in arm with his fellow players during the National Anthem. Then on Monday, he made his stance on this issue crystal clear during his weekly WEEI radio appearance, stating unequivocally that disagreed with Trump and his “divisive” rhetoric.
“I certainly disagree with what he said,” he said. “I thought it was just divisive. I just want to support my teammates. I am never one to say, ‘Oh, that is wrong. That is right.’ I do believe in what I believe in. I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust. Those are the values that my parents instilled in me.”
Trump bit off more than he could chew when he went after the NFL players who have been protesting systemic racism and police brutality by taking a knee during his speech in Alabama on Friday.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s FIRED!’” Trump bellowed.
He then followed up on this by continuing his attacks on Saturday via his Twitter account. While it isn’t clear exactly what reaction Trump thought he would get, the NFL let him know exactly where they stood on Sunday. More players joined in the protest than ever before and even singers performing the National Anthem chose to take a knee to show their solidarity.
Brady said that although he heard fans booing on Sunday, it doesn’t change his opinion on the constitutional right of his fellow athletes to protest injustice.
“Yeah, I did,” Brady said. “No, I think everyone has the right to do whatever they want to do. If you don’t agree, that is fine. You can voice your disagreement, I think that is great. It’s part of our democracy. As long as it is done in a peaceful, respectful way, that is what our country has been all about.”
Brady’s words echoed the words of Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. In a statement released on Sunday, the team’s owner said he was “deeply disappointed” in Trump and his attacks on the First Amendment rights of professional athletes.
“I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday,” Kraft explained. “I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. Their efforts, both on and off the field, help bring people together and make our community stronger. There is no greater unifier in this country than sports and, unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics. I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal. Our players are intelligent, thoughtful and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful.”
If Trump thought he could bully the NFL into submission, he was sorely mistaken. Even his friends are now calling him out and turning their backs on him.
Featured image via Flickr