On the Monday morning edition of Boston sports radio show Kirk & Callahan, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and “friend” of President Trump publicly criticized the president’s comments regarding National Football League players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.
“Yeah, I certainly disagree with what he said. I thought it was just divisive,” Brady said. “Like I said, I just want to support my teammates.”
“Hopefully it brings everyone together,” continued Brady on the show.
“I think that is what unity and love — like I said after the game, those are the things that concern me. When you’re in a locker room full of 53 players, you’re working to a common goal. You support the guys that you play with and you support your coaches, coaches support you. You just do the best you can do. You’re navigating through life. These things aren’t easy.”
Brady’s criticism comes after Donald Trump called for the NFL to fire any players who protested during the anthem in a speech on Friday. The president also called any player who did kneel a “son of a bitch.” He later doubled-down in one of his infamous tweetstorms.
Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
In response, players across the NFL — including Brady’s own team, the Patriots — kneeled, linked arms, and spoke out against the rhetoric.
Other players were quick to voice their opinions, as well.
Brady has made headlines thanks to his seemingly chummy relationship with Trump. He even displayed a Make America Great Again hat in his NFL locker, and said he supported Trump because “there would be a putting green on the White House lawn.”
But before Sunday’s Patriots vs. Texans game, Brady linked arms with his teammate, while placing his other hand over his heart.
What’s notable about Brady’s actions, besides his popularity and relationship status with Trump, is his previous reluctance to publicly speak out on such issues. In the past, Brady has refrained from weighing in on political debates. Particularly during the 2017 Super Bowl when Brady declined to comment on the president’s immigration policy. Instead, he insisted that he just wanted to “focus on the positive aspects of this game.”
In post-game comments, he described his participation in the protest as an act of solidarity with his teammates. And while he reiterated that the protest was about “unity,” his description of the Trump’s comments as “divisive” amounted to a direct address of the political climate and the actions of the president.
On Monday morning, President Trump continued to criticize the national anthem protests on Twitter. While former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police violence against black people and raise awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement, the president recast the act of kneeling as an issue of “respect for our Country, Flag, and National Anthem.”
The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017
But many players don’t seem to agree with the president’s assessment of their actions.
And in this case, actions seem to speak louder than tweets.