FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady directly addressed remarks by President Donald Trump on Monday morning, saying, “I certainly disagree with what he said. I thought it was just divisive.”
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Brady’s willingness to answer the question, which came during his weekly interview on sports radio WEEI’s “Kirk and Callahan” program, was different from how he handled a similar query after the team’s 36-33 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday. At that time, Brady said he didn’t want to get into politics while speaking of the love he has for his teammates.
During his radio interview Monday, Brady was asked if he thought Trump had bigger things to worry about than whether a player kneels during the national anthem. After saying he disagreed with Trump’s remarks, Brady added, “I just want to support my teammates. I’m never one that says, ‘Oh, that’s wrong or that’s right.’ But I do believe in what I believe in, and I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust. Those are the values that my parents instilled in me and that’s how I try to live every day.
“I’ve been blessed to be in a locker room with guys from all over the United States over the course of my career. Some of my great friends are from Florida, Virginia, New York, Montana, Colorado, Texas. I think one thing about football is that it brings so many guys together, guys that you would never have the opportunity to be around, whether it was in college and all the way into the pros. We’re all different. We’re all unique. That’s what makes us all so special.”
Brady was asked if he had ever had conversations with teammates who had questions about his friendship with Trump, and he said that has not happened.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick released a statement on Monday.
“I have immense respect and admiration for our players, for how they conduct themselves professionally as New England Patriots and for how they represent themselves, their families and community as men.
“I have coached football for over four decades and one of the greatest things about being in this environment is the diversity of people, backgrounds, viewpoints and relationships we are fortunate to experience. As with any large group of people, there is a variety of perspectives and opinions on many topics. Discussions occur between myself, individual players, groups and the entire team on an ongoing basis. They concern the team and other issues surrounding the team.
“I am going to keep the specifics of those conversations private. I will do what I feel is best for the team in my role as head coach and collectively, we will work together to find the best way to proceed.”
Trump on Friday night criticized NFL players who lodge protests during the national anthem. Speaking at a political rally in Huntsville, Alabama, Trump said: “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!'”
Seventeen Patriots players kneeled during the national anthem Sunday, while Brady stood in a row with a handful of teammates whose arms were interlocked.
Fans at the Patriots’ home stadium booed the players who kneeled, with some calling for them to stand up. Brady acknowledged on sports radio WEEI that he heard the boos.
Asked if the boos disappointed him, Brady said, “No, I think everyone has a right to do whatever they want to do. If you don’t agree with it, that’s fine, you can voice your disagreement; I think that’s great. It’s part of our democracy, as long as it’s done in a peaceful, respectful way. That’s what this country has been all about.”
The players kneeling sparked a strong reaction from former Patriots offensive tackle Matt Light who was part of the franchise’s first three Super Bowl championships.
“As a guy that’s been there and helped set up the Patriot Way so they can walk in there and do what they do, it’s beyond disheartening,” Light told the Boston Herald. “It’s the first time I’ve ever been ashamed to be a Patriot. And I promise you I’m not the only one.”