NFL star Tom Brady has criticised Donald Trump for attacking players who have used their high profiles to protest racial injustice and police brutality in the US.
“I certainly disagree with what he said,” Brady said during his weekly radio appearance on a local radio station in Massachusetts. “I thought it was just divisive. I just want to support my teammates. I am never one to say, ‘Oh, that is wrong. That is right.’ I do believe in what I believe in. I believe in bringing people together, and respect, and love, and trust. Those are the values that my parents instilled in me.”
Brady stood alongside his teammates over the weekend, many of whom took a knee during the national anthem before the Patriots game against the Houston Texans. He refused to share his thoughts on the protests after the game, but then offered his opinion the next morning.
Brady is a friend of the President’s, and a Make America Great Again hat was spotted in his locker during the campaign. The football star refused to endorse Mr Trump in 2016, but was quiet during most of the major scandals that plagued the Republican’s campaign.
The five-time Super Bowl champion was just one of many professional athletes to protest over the weekend, after Mr Trump went after athletes like Colin Kaepernick for refusing to stand during the national anthem in protest of police brutality.
“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!” Mr Trump said at a rally in Alabama Friday.
Those statements sparked a flurry out outrage both from players, and from executives in the NFL. Among those who expressed dismay was NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who said that he was proud of the players and coaches who protested the President’s statements.
“The way we reacted today, and this weekend, made me proud,” Mr Goodell said. “I’m proud of our league.”
Some teams took things further than kneeling, and the demonstrations were not limited to just football teams.
The entire Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans teams stayed in their locker rooms before they played each other, while the Pittsburgh Steelers also stayed inside for the anthem in a game in Chicago.
Athletes demonstrated before a WNBA finals game in Minneapolis over the weekend, with the entire Los Angeles Sparks team staying in their locker room during the national anthem. Their opponents, the Minnesota Lynx, stood with their arms linked. In baseball, the rookie catcher for the Oakland Athletics became the first player to demonstrate at a Major League Baseball game, too.
The weekend protests come 13 months after Kaepernick first sat next to some Gatorade buckets before a preseason game when the national anthem was being played. Kaepernick was not able to participate in the most recent protests, however, as he was not resigned onto a football team this year. It is not clear if Kaepernick’s protest impacted that decision at all, however.