Tom Brady’s “Trump Pass” — Time to End This Trick Play

Mr. Brady, stand up, break away from Robo Coach who is, of course, on to Houston, and say, “Yes, I supported Mr. Trump, and yes, we’ve spoken since the AFC Championship … but I do NOT agree with all of his views and what happened this weekend was wrong, plain and simple.

(NOTE: This post contains some NSFW language)

Photo: Getty Images, Washington Post

OK, before you sling your arrows at me, I acknowledge the following:

  1. I am a white, solidly upper-middle class male living in one of the most prosperous suburbs of Boston.
  2. I attended an expensive private university (albeit with help from an academic scholarship).
  3. I grew up in a stable, solidly middle-class household with two loving parents.
  4. I have done well for myself in the past 20 years, and yes, I have owned 2 BMWs.
  5. Politics and sports usually make horrible bedfellow.

In general, I’m a white male of privilege. (Here, if this were in HTML, I’d write “/apology.”) I also banged this out quickly before heading into a protest in Boston.

But I’m having a REAL hard time with Tom Brady and his evasiveness re: his relationship with the POTUS, and that he is, with few exceptions, getting a pass from the media.

During a weekend marred by the kind of heartless chaos we’re apparently bound to suffer until at least the mid-terms, another “Why You Shouldn’t Root for the Patriots” articles this past weekend, this one from Vice, an organization that has earned my respect in the last year by significantly upping its journalism game.

Usually, I ignore these, or find them lazy and well, repetitive. This one, from Sean Newell, who has a resume of solid writing, followed most of the usual template, except “Reason the Second: Donald Trump:”

Last year, Brady voluntarily left a “Make America Great Again” hat front and center in his locker while talking to reporters, like Mark McGwire’s tub of andro, only with a higher concentration of synthetic testosterone. Brady then continually refused to comment on his relationship with the newly-elected president, who recently announced he wants to make Mexico pay for a border wall by taxing US citizens. When push finally came to shove after the AFC championship game, but only after Trump said that Tom Brady called to congratulate him on his inauguration, Brady finally revealed:

“Sometimes he calls me. Sometimes I call him. But, again, that’s been someone I’ve known. I always try to keep it in context because for 16 years you know someone before maybe he was in the position that he was in. He’s been very supportive of me for a long time. It’s just a friendship. I have a lot of friends. I call a lot of people…Why does that make such a big deal? I don’t understand that.”

Brady then was asked on the show about having conversations with women who may not like Trump.

“I don’t want to get into it, but if you know someone, it doesn’t mean you agree with everything they say or they do,” Brady said. “You have a lot of friends in your life. I think there are things that are based in your own dealings with someone that is a personal dealing, not a public dealing. Because you have personal experiences.”

Mind you, there have been many pieces written about this, perhaps the best by David Dennis Jr. on the Huffington Post and Dave Zirin in The National:

Tom Brady does not understand. If the insistence of his wife, Gisele Bundchen, that she would never vote for Trump has not gotten through to him, if the hashtag #notmyfootballteam—in reference to the close ties among Patriots owner Bob Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, Brady, and Trump—confuses him, then maybe we should try to make it plain.

Why is this mutual man-crush an issue? First and foremost, Trump used his friendship with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in the final days before the election, publicly touting their “endorsements.” He even read a letter from Belichick at a closing-night campaign rally in New Hampshire. Whether or not Donald Trump had permission to do these things—I have it on good authority that he did not—doesn’t change the fact that Brady and Belichick were not bystanders to this election but actors within it.

I am truly struggling with the Trump-Brady connection (in conversations in my home, at a barber shop, with folks at yesterday’s Copley Square protest, and with some online friends).

Why does Brady get a pass and Charles Barkley got shit for stating (rightly) “I am not a role model?” and Michael Jordan (until VERY recently) catch similar flak for not doing enough for the African-American community?

Tom, you do realize your wife is an immigrant, don’t you?

To quote my friend Ben Schwartz, “Honestly, this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this game and this league.” I was livid about Ray Lewis getting away with his involvement in a 1999 murder, thousands of players suffering early-onset dementia (and largely being ignored or paid cheap lip service by the league) or committing suicide, and the league and Baltimore Ravens’ shameful handling of the Ray Rice spousal assault case and the dozens more like it. (Sadly, USA Today has seen fit to keep an updated database of player arrests, by league, here.) And yet, I continued to watch the Patriots and the NFL Red Zone every week with my wife and boys.

I feel dirty. So here goes.

Mr. Brady, stand up, break away from Robo Coach who is, of course, on to Houston, and say, “Yes, I supported Mr. Trump, and yes, we’ve spoken since the AFC Championship … but I do NOT agree with all of his views and what happened this weekend was wrong, plain and simple.”

Please, please, be human and use your podium for good.

2004 Boston Red Sox World Series parade; Photo:

In 2004, at the (first) height of the (second) Iraq War, a friend asked a bunch of us on Facebook if we’d trade the Boston Red Sox (a team that had bedeviled me in 1975, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2003) first World Series win in 86 years for a John Kerry victory and an exit from Iraq.

I didn’t think twice. I would trade it then, and I’d trade it now.

Boy, a principled stance would have been more fun during the simpler times of Dick McPherson and Hugh Millen

If Tom can’t answer these queries honestly, then fuck him, fuck his coach, fuck his owner, and fuck the franchise I’ve loved for 40 years. (I will admit, this stand would be easier to take during, say, the Rod Rust era).

I’m glad we live in a country where we have the luxury of arguing about sport. But I am not ready for Kristallnacht II–The Wrath of Trump.

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