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Early Sunday, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who has been a staunch supporter of his friend, President Donald Trump, and even gave Trump a Super Bowl LI championship ring, surprisingly released a statement saying he was “deeply disappointed” with the statements Trump made about the NFL and players on Friday.
But another member of the Patriots organization who has been seen as a Trump ally wasn’t willing to take a similar stand.
As the national anthem was sung at Gillette Stadium prior to New England’s game with the Houston Texans, over a dozen players kneeled, while still others linked arms. Tom Brady was at one end of the chain, his left arm linked with receiver Phillip Dorsett’s, and his right hand over his heart at one point.
That morning, Brady had posted a photo to his Instagram account of himself with teammate James White that was captioned, “Strength. Passion. Love. Brotherhood. Team. Unity. Commitment. Dedication. Determination. Respect. Loyalty. Work. #nflplayer.”
In his postgame press conference, Brady was asked about being part of the chain of players and said simply, “I just think there’s a great love for my teammates.”
When the follow-up questions came, Brady, as is his custom, opted to focus on being positive.
One reporter asked for Brady’s reaction that the player who caught the game-winning touchdown, Brandin Cooks, was booed by the crowd for being among those kneeling.
“Like I said, I’ve got a lot of love for my teammates. We got through a lot together, there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears,” Brady said. “I don’t think it’s easy to play this sport, there’s a lot of guys who sacrifice a lot. I think you have a lot of respect for the guys who play, not only your own teammates but guys you play against. Without them, it’s not a great game. I believe in all of us coming together.”
Yet when it was mentioned that Trump said it’s unacceptable to kneel, Brady responded, “I’m not getting into any of that.”
“Like I said, I speak for myself, I believe what I believe, and you guys know me, I’m a very positive person,” Brady continued. “I try to just live by example and say positive things about people and I try to control my own emotions, and no matter what anyone said, I’m going to have a positive outlook, certainly with my teammates. We all go through ups and downs and there’s struggles and it’s life and we’re all trying to navigate it as best we can. I believe love is the greatest thing we have; it overcomes a lot of things.”
Owners have made statements saying Trump’s words weren’t positive, another reporter began. Do you think the NFL should stand up for itself?
“I mean, everybody can do whatever they want to do. I don’t care what the owners do, I care about my teammates and the belief i have in them and the love that I have for them,” Brady said. “We get to play a great game. I love playing, I never take it for granted; to come out here and play in front of our fans and to play in my 18th year is a blessing.”
Brady has been tied to Trump since a “Make America Great Again” hat showed up in his locker two years ago; the quarterback has called Trump a friend, and someone who supported him through deflate-gate, but he has not commented on Trump’s political style.