New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady took to Instagram on Sunday to share a photo of himself and his teammate James White as President Donald Trump continues his spat with the NFL.
The photo was captioned, “Strength. Passion. Love. Brotherhood. Team. Unity. Commitment. Dedication. Determination. Respect. Loyalty. Work. #nflplayer.”
During the national anthem before the Patriots game against the Houston Texans on Sunday, Brady linked arms with teammate Phillip Dorsett, stayed standing, and placed his hand on his heart:
Trump tweeted on Sunday afternoon that, “Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable.”
Brady is the latest NFL player to promote unity in the wake of Trump’s suggestion that athletes who kneel during the national anthem as a form of protest should be fired from the league.
“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. “If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
In addition to several football players, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and the NFL Players Association, Trump’s comments also prompted criticism from Patriots owner and close friend Robert Kraft.
“I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the president on Friday,” Kraft said, referring to Trump’s initial suggestion during a rally Friday night that players who kneel should be fired. “I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. Their efforts, both on and off the field, help bring people together and make our community stronger.”
Kraft added that he supported his players’ right to protest.
“There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics,” Kraft said. “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.”
Trump frequently bragged of his relationship with Kraft, Brady, and coach Bill Belichick both during the campaign and following his election, even reading letters of support from Brady and Belichick in the campaign’s closing days.
Allan Smith contributed reporting.