No team has matched the success the New England Patriots have enjoyed during the 21st century: They’ve won five Super Bowls and now have the potential of earning a sixth title in February following their victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday.
Unfortunately — this success has also made the Patriots the victims of harsh criticism, whether it be a scandal like spygate or deflategate. However, in the past two years, that criticism has shifted to the team’s seemingly positive relationship with the president of the United States.
Although some individuals with the Patriots are clearly anti-Trump — specifically Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty — the team’s leaders — quarterback Tom Brady, head coach Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft (who reportedly donated to Trump’s inauguration) — have been friends with President Donald Trump for well over a decade. In the past, many Patriots fans have felt as if the national media were biased against their team — but ever since Trump has become president, staunch leftists and many in the mainstream media have turned the Patriots into a political scapegoat.
This needs to stop.
Over the weekend, Vice released an article urging America to root for the Jacksonville Jaguars instead of the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. The third sentence of the article says this: “The Patriots are villainous cheaters with a player, coach and owner that consider Donald Trump a friend, while the Jaguars are best known as the team that can’t afford to finish the paint jobs on their helmets.”
Vice wanted people to root against the Patriots because three people in the organization became friends with Trump back when he was just another wealthy golfing buddy. The liberal logic of Vice is also flawed, as Trump won the state of Florida (where the Jaguars are based) in 2016 — and he only earned one electoral vote out of six New England states (Maine’s 2nd Congressional District).
Tom Brady, in particular, has been attacked for his relationship with Trump because he had a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker back in 2015. The Boston Globe said reporters asked him if Trump had what it took to be elected — and he responded with, “I hope so. That would be great. There would be a putting green on the White House lawn. I’m sure of that.”
Brady later backtracked and said he did not discuss politics and that Belichick only talks football strategy in his press conferences — but the media would not back off the issue. For example, SB Nation said the Patriots have a “Trump problem,” while The Washington Post said the connections to Trump (who said late in his campaign that Brady and Belichick had endorsed him) made the Patriots hard to root for, “particularly when contrasted with the outright bravery of Colin Kaepernick.”
On Twitter, of course, many anti-Trumpers had to take their shots at the team as well, as they did their best to further inject the game of football with politics.
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There is nothing productive about these attacks. The Patriots organization has many different people of different backgrounds who may or may not hold specific political beliefs. Some are even liberal and skipped the White House visit last year after winning the Super Bowl.
Brady, however, does not usually discuss politics; and when WEEI asked him about Trump last month, he said, “Let’s talk about football.”
This is in stark contrast to the behavior of many other political players, who often flaunt their opinions aggressively and exploit their platform to distract from sports. Brady doesn’t do this — yet he receives far more backlash.
Even so, Brady, Belichick and Kraft have the right to be friends with whomever they choose — and to vote for whomever they want, just like any other American citizen.
There are enough politics in sports already, and now liberals are exploiting and twisting the personal beliefs of a few to further divide and polarize people.
Most importantly, they do not politicize football or push their beliefs on fans — unlike how anthem kneeler Colin Kaepernick did — and what these guys think in their private lives is not germane to the team’s performance. If the team were filled with full-blown Marxist communists, it still would not change what they have accomplished on the football field.
A political angle is being pushed at Brady, Belichick, Kraft, and the New England Patriots fans, rather than the other way around — and that’s shameful. There are enough politics in sports already, and now liberals are exploiting and twisting the personal beliefs of a few to further divide and polarize people over what used to be a unifying sport.
People do not need to share their political beliefs or justify those political beliefs to anyone else. It is the sports writers with their liberal arts degrees and the unreasonable anti-Trump mob that needs to back off the issue when Brady, Belichick, Kraft and the rest of the team — regardless of political affiliation — are “merely” trying to focus on winning football games. It has worked out well for them over the past two decades — so there’s no need to change anything now to appease any critics.
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.