New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is at odds with President Donald Trump on the issue of player protests of the national anthem, calling Trump’s comments “just divisive.”
Brady told Boston’s WEEI-FM that he “certainly” disagrees with Trump’s comment that NFL owners should fire any player who refuses to stand for the anthem.
The Patriots locked arms with some teammates during the “Star Spangled Banner” Sunday against the Texans while other players kneeled.
Brady has called Trump a “good friend” in the past and one of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats was spotted in Brady’s locker in 2015. Trump has often praised the quarterback on social media.
Brady skipped a White House visit with Trump in April when the team celebrated its fifth Super Bowl title.
Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a prominent civil rights leader, said earlier Monday that Trump’s comments about protesting NFL players were “beneath the dignity of the president.”
Trump used profanity in referring to NFL players who don’t stand during the national anthem.
Lewis says he couldn’t believe what he heard during the president’s campaign rally in his native state.
Lewis said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., often said Americans have a right to protest for what is right. Speaking outside the Capitol, Lewis also says Americans have a long history of protesting with peaceful, orderly and non-violent actions.
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart fired back at Trump for attacking players who kneel during the national anthem. He said their protests against racial inequality and police brutality are “real locker room talk.”
Many NFL players on Sunday locked arms with their teammates — some standing, others kneeling — in a show of solidarity. “Everyone should know, including the president, this is what real locker room talk is,” Lockhart said Monday during a conference call.
“We don’t seek to get into political debates or relish being in the middle of it, but extraordinary statements from our clubs and owners demonstrate just how deeply we believe in our players and in our game.”
Trump on Monday morning said his criticism of football players who kneel during the national anthem “has nothing to do with race.”
The issue is “about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!,” Trump tweeted.
The president tweeted that many people “booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!”
He also points with pride to NASCAR supporters, writing, “They won’t put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag - they said it loud and clear!”