Patriots owner Robert Kraft has long publicly supported President Donald Trump, a man who he considers a close and personal friend. Behind the scenes though appears to be a different story.
In exclusive audio obtained by the New York Times, Kraft speaks out against the President’s remarks about NFL Players kneeling during the anthem.
“The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America,” said Kraft. “It’s divisive and it’s horrible.”
Kraft’s critical commentary on Trump’s racially divisive remarks came during an emergency summit between owners, players and executives convened back in October. The meeting was held as the NFL came under fire when President Trump began criticizing the league and its players over protests during the national anthem.
Trump wishes NFL owners would tell anthem protesters "get that son of a bitch off the field right now" pic.twitter.com/gq4EH3lNoY
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) September 23, 2017
While the meeting dealt with protests in general, according to the Times the conversation kept coming back to Colin Kaepernick. The man who started the movement and who at that time was not (and still isn’t) employed by an NFL team.
“We all agree in this room as players that he should be on a roster,” Former Patriot and current Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long said at the meeting. “If he was on a roster right now, all this negativeness and divisiveness could be turned into a positive.”
Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s former teammate and the first player to kneel alongside him also though the former QB was being unfairly targeted.
“I feel like he (Kaepernick) was hung out to dry,” Reid said. “Everyone in here is talking about how much they support us. Nobody stepped up and said we support Colin’s right to do this. We all let him become Public Enemy No. 1 in this country, and he still doesn’t have a job.”
According to the story, Owners for the most part were non-committal about how specifically to address the Kaepernick situation but all seemed to think the kneeling was not in the league’s best interests because of fear that the President would continue to use it to stoke racial divisions; and that would be bad for the brand. Houston owner Bob McNair was the most outspoken.
“You fellas need to ask your compadres, fellas, stop that other business,” McNair said. “Let’s go out and do something that really produces positive results, and we’ll help you.”
The Owners and Players ended up putting out a joint statement. Neither Kaepernick, nor Reid currently is employed by an NFL team