Robert Kraft’s support of Donald Trump before and after the 2016 presidential election didn’t stop him from strongly rebuking the U.S. president last fall.
The New York Times on Wednesday published a detailed account of the October 2017 meeting between NFL owners, executives and players at the league’s New York headquarters to discuss player protests during the national anthem.
Among the revelations: Kraft appeared to be the first to address the “elephant in the room” of players “kneeling” — and blamed the controversy surrounding the protests on Trump.
“The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America,” the New England Patriots owner said, according to an audio recording obtained by the Times. “It’s divisive and it’s horrible.”
Trump called for players who protest to be “fired” in a passionate rant last September that ignited much of the country’s current division over the issue.
Kraft condemned the president’s comments at the time, but it doesn’t appear much was accomplished at that October meeting. Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, for example, demanded an end to the protest using some interesting language — “You fellas need to ask your compadres, fellas, stop that other business” — while Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula “unloaded a dizzying flurry of nautical metaphors” to describe the league’s “predicament,” per the Times.
In short, it seems there was much talk and little action. According to the Times, the owners failed to directly address the players’ concerns about Colin Kaepernick, who remains unsigned today after starting the protest movement two seasons ago. Instead, Kraft and Co. focused on crafting the statement that would be released to the public about the meeting.
“It would be good if you could work in the word ‘unified’ or ‘unity’ in some fashion,” Kraft said of the statement, according to the report.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images