The next time President Donald Trump and fellow part-time Palm Beacher Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, share a meal at Trump’s Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, there may be some awkward moments.
While the two have forged a close friendship over the years, and Kraft has donated $1 million dollars 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 political rally in Alabama last week, he said NFL owners should fire players (he referred to them as sons-of-bitches) who don’t stand during the playing of the anthem.
That led to a widespread protest on Sunday in which NFL players, and in some instances, coaches and owners, either kneeling or locking 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 on Friday.”
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 on Monday.