FOXBORO, Mass. — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady stood with his right hand over his heart and his left arm linked with wide receiver Phillip Dorsett while classically trained operatic tenor Fran Rogers sang the national anthem at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
“I just think there’s a great love for my teammates,” Brady said.
It’s no coincidence Brady strayed from the norm of standing by himself during the national anthem less than two days after his friend, President Donald Trump, made divisive comments about the NFL and its players. Trump called quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who Brady has supported in the past, a “son of a bitch” during the speech.
While Brady stood linked within a group of seven players, 18 Patriots kneeled during the national anthem. Some fans in Gillette Stadium, with no sense of irony, booed and screamed for players to stand up as the national anthem started, denouncing what they determined to be disrespect for the flag, “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the United States.
That was before the Patriots pulled off a 36-33 comeback win over the Houston Texans thanks to last-minute heroics by Brady. Then there were cheers and chants of Brady’s name.
“Like I said, I’ve got a lot of love for my teammates,” Brady responded when asked about the chorus of boos. “I mean, we go through a lot together. There’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears. I don’t think it’s easy to play this sport. I mean, there’s a lot of guys that sacrifice a lot. I think you have a lot of respect for the guys who play, not only your own teammates but guys you play against. I mean, without them, it’s not a great game. So, it’s like I said. I believe in all of us coming together.”
Trump has said players kneeling during the anthem is unacceptable. Brady didn’t want to get “into any of that.”
“I speak for myself,” Brady said. “I believe what I believe. You guys know me. I’m a very positive person, so I try to just live by example and say positive things about people. I try to control my own emotions, and no matter what anyone says, I’m going to have a positive outlook, certainly with my teammates. We all go through ups and downs and there’s struggles and it’s life and we’re all trying to navigate it as best we can. So, I believe that love is the greatest thing we have that overcomes a lot of things.”
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who also has been linked to Trump, would only address football questions Sunday, though he did say he would talk about the protests during the national anthem later.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images