Trump, NFL owner at odds over an­them is­sue

Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY - By JOHN BISOGNANO

The next time Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and fel­low part-time res­i­dent Robert Kraft, owner of the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots, share a meal at Mar-a-Lago, there may be some awk­ward mo­ments.

While the two have forged a close friend­ship over the years, and Kraft do­nated $1 mil­lion to Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion, the two are on op­po­site sides of the new­est con­tro­versy — whether some NFL play­ers should kneel dur­ing the play­ing of the na­tional an­them be­fore games as a sign of sol­i­dar­ity for what they per­ceive as un­fair treat­ment of mi­nori­ties in the coun­try.

Trump stirred the fire ant’s nest when, dur­ing a re­cent po­lit­i­cal rally in Alabama, he said NFL own­ers should fire play­ers (he re­ferred to them as son­sof-bitches) who don’t stand dur­ing the play­ing of the an­them.

That led to a wide­spread protest last Sunday in which NFL play­ers, and in some in­stances, coaches and own­ers, ei­ther kneeled or locked arms dur­ing the play­ing of the an­them.

Kraft has said that he and Trump forged a stronger friend­ship when Kraft’s phi­lan­thropist wife of nearly 50 years, Myra, died of can­cer in 2011 at 68. Her death dev­as­tated Kraft, and Trump and his wife, Mela­nia, ex­pressed a con­tin­u­ing con­cern for him and his fam­ily.

Kraft even gave Trump a Su­per Bowl LI ring af­ter his Pa­tri­ots beat the At­lanta Fal­cons in the Su­per Bowl.

But af­ter Trump’s re­cent com­ments, Kraft said in a state­ment: “I am deeply dis­ap­pointed by the tone of the com­ments made by the pres­i­dent.”

He went on to say: “There is no greater uni­fier in this coun­try than sports, and un­for­tu­nately, noth­ing more di­vi­sive than pol­i­tics.

“I think our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers could learn a lot from the lessons of team­work and the im­por­tance of work­ing to­gether to­ward a com­mon goal. Our play­ers are in­tel­li­gent, thought­ful and care deeply about our com­mu­nity, and I sup­port their right to peace­fully af­fect so­cial change and raise aware­ness in a man­ner that they feel is most im­pact­ful.”

When Trump was asked about Kraft’s com­ments, he replied, ac­cord­ing to Ya­hoo Sports!: “Look, that’s OK. He has to take his ideas and go with what he wants. I think it’s very dis­re­spect­ful to our coun­try. I think it’s very, very dis­re­spect­ful to our flag.

“I like Bob very, much, we’re friends,” Trump said. “He gave me a Su­per Bowl ring a month ago, right? So he’s a good friend of mine, and I want him to do what he wants to do.”

Tom Brady, the Pa­tri­ots su­per­star quar­ter­back who also con­sid­ers him­self a friend of Trump, yet who didn’t join some of his Pa­tri­ots team­mates when they vis­ited the White House in April, cit­ing per­sonal rea­sons, also had a say in the mat­ter.

“Yeah, I cer­tainly dis­agree with what (Trump) said. I thought it was just di­vi­sive,” he told “Kirk and Cal­la­han” on Bos­ton’s WEEI sport­stalk ra­dio show.

Shan­non Don­nelly / Daily News File Photo

New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots owner Robert Kraft, cen­ter, talks with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and oth­ers at Mar-a-Lago on April 7. The two are on op­po­site sides of the NFL an­them con­tro­versy.

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