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Tom Brady, a longtime Trump friend, calls president's words about kneeling players 'just divisive

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a longtime friend of President Donald Trump, said Monday that Trump's comments against players who kneel for the national anthem are "just divisive." (Getty Images/Jim Rogash)

What did Tom Brady say?

  • When asked about President Donald Trump's incendiary comments from Friday about NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady replied, "I certainly disagree with what he said. I thought it was just divisive."
  • Brady was speaking Monday morning in an interview for the "Kirk and Callahan" program on WEEI 97.3 FM in Boston.
  • Brady added: "I just want to support my teammates ... I'm never one that says, 'Oh, that's wrong or that's right.' But I do believe in what I believe in, and I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust ... Those are the values that my parents instilled in me, and that's how I try to live every day."
  • He also told WEEI that none of his teammates have asked him about his friendship with Trump.

Here's audio of Brady's comments:

Why does this matter?

  • Brady — arguably the best NFL quarterback of all time — has been friends with Trump for the last 16 years.
  • The subject of their relationship had become a sore spot for many fans and members of the media, who have questioned why Brady is friends with Trump due to inflammatory comments the president has made.
  • But Brady always steered around such queries and wondered why it was such a big deal to others. “He’s been very supportive of me for a long time," he said of Trump, adding that "if you know someone, it doesn’t mean that you agree with everything that they say or do, right?"
  • Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft also are good friends with Trump.
  • Belichick wrote Trump a congratulatory letter after last November's election victory that Trump read out loud to a crowd.
  • Kraft called Trump a "wonderful friend,” in an interview with the New York Times, and added that, "I really think the policies he’s going to bring to bear are going to be great for the economic side of America.”

Are there cracks showing in the Trump-Brady alliance?

  • Trump claimed Brady made a congratulatory call to him after winning the 2016 election, but Brady's wife — supermodel Gisele Bundchen — denied rumors that she and Brady were endorsing Trump.
  • Brady also was among several Patriot players who skipped the traditional visit to the White House after the squad's Super Bowl victory in February. While there were big political reasons for his teammates' absences, Brady said he wanted to be with his ailing mother.

What did Trump say?

  • Trump on Friday night told an Alabama crowd, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b***h off the field right now. Out. He's fired! He's fired!'"
  • He added, “And that owner ... they’re friends of mine, many of them ... they’ll be the most popular person for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country. 'Cause that’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for, OK?”
  • Another pro football figure, former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, said after Trump's Friday comments that he regrets supporting the president. "I'm pissed off," Ryan said. "... Because I supported Donald Trump. When he asked me to introduce him at a rally in Buffalo, I did that. But I'm reading these comments and it's appalling to me, and I'm sure it's appalling to almost any citizen in our country. It should be."
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