New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said his decision to link arms with teammates during the national anthem ahead of their Sunday match-up against the Houston Texans was based on his “love and respect” for the players and their opponents.
“I’m not getting into any of that,” said Brady, a self-described friend of President Trump. “I speak for myself and I believe what I believe. As you guys know, I’m a very positive person. I try to lead by example.”
While about 16 Patriots players knelt nearby, the quarterback locked arms with receiver Philip Dorsett and other teammates.
The move followed a turbulent weekend of protests prompted by Trump’s lashing out at Stephen Curry for not wanting to attend a special ceremony at the White House honoring his NBA 2016-2017 season championship team, the Golden State Warriors. The president then slammed the NFL for not reprimanding players who disrespected flag and country by kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“I just think there’s just great love for my teammates,” Brady continued. “I got a lot of love and respect for my teammates and opponents.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick declined to discuss the activism, saying he would prefer to simply talk about the game.
Earlier, Patriots owner Robert Kraft confessed in a written statement that he was “deeply disappointed” by Trump’s remarks, adding he supported his players’ First Amendment rights.”
“There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics,” Kraft wrote. “I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal.”
The Patriots beat the Texans, 36-33.
This post originally appeared on Washington Examiner