New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, seen here with Donald...

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, seen here with Donald Trump on June 25, 2005, said on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, that he disagreed with the president's comments on NFL players' protests during the singing of the national anthem. Credit: WireImage / Donna Connor

End of a bromance?

When he campaigned in New England, Trump seemed to declare “I love Tom Brady!” almost as often as “Make America great again.”

Trump claimed Brady as a supporter. The Patriots’ quarterback didn’t dispute it. While quiet on politics, Brady had a MAGA hat in his locker and acknowledged a friendship dating to when Trump invited him to judge a beauty pageant 15 years ago.

Now Brady has taken a side against the president’s demand that NFL teams fire players who have knelt or made other gestures of protest during the playing of the national anthem.

“I certainly disagree with what he said,” Brady said on a Boston radio station. “I thought it was just divisive.”

Brady, who stood for the anthem but locked arms with teammates, said players who protested and the fans who booed them for it all have the right to express themselves.

“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 said. See Newsday’s story by Laura Figueroa and Neil Best.

Keeping score

On Day 4 of his NFL-bashing, Trump tweeted approvingly that “many people booed the players who kneeled” during the anthem at Sunday’s NFL games.

“The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem,” Trump tweeted. Participating players said the protest was aimed at racial injustice, not America.

“It is about race. It is about inequalities in our communities,” Miami Dolphin Michael Thomas told CNN.

Trump cited support from NASCAR — owners Richard Petty and Richard Childress said Sunday that they’d fire an anthem protester — but Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted Monday in support of the rights of Americans to “peaceful protests.”

As of Monday, no NFL sponsors were signing on to Trump’s call for a boycott. Ford, Under Armour and Anheuser-Busch said they support both the flag and the right to free expression. A NASCAR statement took a similar stance.

Fake 'progress'

Clearly seeking to cushion all the backlash against him, Trump cited the Monday night game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals where the home team knelt first, then stood for the anthem.

Snuffled the president: "The booing at the NFL football game last night, when the entire Dallas team dropped to its knees, was loudest I have ever heard. Great anger... But while Dallas dropped to its knees as a team, they all stood up for our National Anthem. Big progress being made-we all love our country!"

Translation into reality: America's team found a way to make it an anti-Trump protest over racial equality without making it an anti-flag protest. 

Then Trump went back to watching and promoting "Fox & Friends."

Kelly: Stand and think

CNN reports that while White House chief of staff John Kelly also is disturbed by the anthem protests, he wishes Trump had not made it a public fight. Trump tweeted the report was “fake news” and “General John Kelly totally agrees w/ my stance.”

There’s no dispute on the second point. A son of the former Marine general was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. Kelly told CNN:

“I believe every American, when the national anthem is played, should cover their hearts and think about all the men and women who have been maimed and killed. ... Every American should stand up and think for three lousy minutes.”

The take-away: Puerto Rico

Trump went quiet for five days about hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico while taking his tweetstorm over the NFL into overtime. But help is quietly getting through, even as the island’s officials ask for an escalation of the relief effort, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

The White House said Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert and FEMA administrator Brock Long went to Puerto Rico Monday to assess needs and report back to the president.

On Monday night, Trump tweeted Puerto Rico is in “deep trouble” — complicated by “broken infrastructure & massive debt” — but “Food, water and medical are top priorities — and doing well.”

Nuclear taunt tag

It was North Korea’s turn for one-upmanship in ominous rhetoric over the nuclear standoff with the United States.

Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho called a weekend tweet by Trump a “declaration of war” and said North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers — even in international airspace.

Trump tweeted Saturday: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at UN. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man” — Trump’s nickname for Kim Jong Un — “they won’t be around much longer!”

Fake rocket

Was Trump fooled by a report Saturday that Iran had just test-launched a new medium-range missile? He tweeted that it was another reason to doubt the value of the Iran nuclear treaty.

“Iran just test-fired a Ballistic Missile capable of reaching Israel. They are also working with North Korea. Not much of an agreement we have!” the tweet said.

It turns out the video released by the Iranians was more than seven months old — dating back to a failed test in January, Fox News reported.

Bitterness mounts 

Despite breakaways from other GOP lawmakers, Trump continued to focus attacks on Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) for opposing the latest weak stab at health care "repeal-and-replace." Despite sponsoring the measure, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said of the president's bluster that McCain has earned the right "to do whatever the damn hell he wants."

The email thing, again

Whoops. Now it turns out at least a half-dozen Trump aides used private email servers in addressing White House issues. Leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have begun asking questions. 

What else is happening

  • Pittsburgh Steeler Alejandro Villanueva, a West Point grad and Army Ranger veteran of Afghanistan, said it was an accident of timing that he ended up standing alone for the anthem Sunday while his teammates stayed in the locker room. He said he had no issue with protests and no comment on Trump.
  • Trump retweeted a photo of Pat Tillman, who quit the NFL for the Army after 9/11 and was killed in Afghanistan, with the hashtag #BoycottNFL. In January, Tillman’s widow denounced Trump’s travel ban, saying, “This is not the country he dreamed of, not what he served for and not what he died for.”
  • Marie Tillman added, in light of Trump's latest tirade: "Pat's service, along with that of every man and woman's service, should never be politicized in a way that divides us. We are too great of a country for that."
  • The Supreme Court has postponed hearing arguments on the legality of Trump’s travel ban now that he’s issued a new version. It wants to hear from lawyers on both sides on what should happen next.
  • An ABC News/Washington Post poll finds 66 percent of Americans believe Trump is doing more to divide the country than unite it.
  • Trump is due to tell more about his tax overhaul plan in a speech in Indianapolis Wednesday. It will likely call for slashing the corporate rate and reducing the levy for the wealthiest Americans, The Associated Press reported.
  • Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who led a House investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, joined his Democratic counterpart on the oversight committee, asking the White House for information on the use of personal email accounts by Jared Kushner and other senior officials.
  • Just before joining the Trump campaign, Steve Bannon plotted to plant a mole inside Facebook, BuzzFeed reported.