CAPLAN: New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft’s Criticism of President Trump is a Masterclass in Disloyalty

At a rally in Alabama on Friday, President Trump unloaded on NFL players for kneeling in protest during the National Anthem. Posing a scenario which would light the sports world ablaze in the following days, Trump rhetorically asked a fired-up crowd in Huntsville how wonderful it would be if NFL players were punished for protesting the National Anthem.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired,’” belted Trump.

“You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country,” Trump continued.

Yet Trump didn’t stop there. Rather, the Commander-in-Chief then drew a correlation between the league’s two emerging soft spots — rule changes and bruised ratings.

“The NFL ratings are down massively,” President Trump pointed out.

“Now the Number one reason happens to be they like watching what’s happening with yours truly. They like what’s happening. Because you know today if you hit too hard: 15 yards! Throw him out of the game!”

Trump then complained: “They’re ruining the game! That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit! It is hurting the game.”

The President’s comments set off a firestorm around the sports world, drawing the ire of Kobe Bryant, Richard Sherman and various NFL owners.

“A  whose name alone creates division and anger. Whose words inspire dissension and hatred can’t possibly “Make America Great Again,”‘ tweeted Bryant.

Sherman tweeted, “The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!”

Green Bay Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy released the following statement:

It’s unfortunate that the President decided to use his immense platform to make divisive and offensive statements about our players and the NFL. We strongly believe that players are leaders in our communities and positive influences. They have achieved their positions through tremendous work and dedication and should be celebrated for their success and positive impact. We believe it is important to support any of our players who choose to peacefully express themselves with the hope of change for good. As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to speak openly and freely.

Among the most striking criticism the President received was from “good friend,” Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots.

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Below is a read out of Kraft’s statement.

I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday. 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.

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.

Trump and Kraft have a long history together. Notably, when Patriots owner’s wife of 48 years, Myra, passed away, Trump not only attended the funeral, but checked in with his grieving pal on a weekly basis. ‘He was one of five or six people that were like that. I remember that,’ recalled Kraft in an interview with the New York Daily News.

Daily Mail UK reports:

Americans who voted for President Donald Trump in the recent election have cited a number of different reasons when it comes to what drew them to the billionaire businessman, and on Monday during Media Day at the Super Bowl New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft listed a new one – he is an incredibly loyal friend.

When asked about his relationship with President Trump, Kraft chose to explain their friendship by describing what his Republican friend and the First Lady did for him after he lost his wife of 48 years Myra to cancer in 2011.

‘When Myra died, Melania and Donald came up to the funeral in our synagogue, then they came for memorial week to visit with me,’ said Kraft in an interview with the New York Daily News.

‘Then he called me once a week for the whole year, the most depressing year of my life when I was down and out. He called me every week to see how I was doing, invited me to things, tried to lift my spirits.’

Kraft donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration celebration and gifted the President a Super Bowl ring after the Patriots’ championship victory last season.

Understanding the history between Trump and Kraft makes the latter’s statement infuriating.

“I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday,” begun Kraft.

The opening line of Kraft’s statement drips of patriarchal condescension. Deeply disappointed, you say? Speaking of tone, Kraft sounds as if he is critiquing his moral junior — a dynamic characteristic of father-son relationships. Robert Kraft is one of the world’s most preeminent business leaders and a sports visionary — but he mustn’t be confused as to where the center of gravity lays in his relationship with the 45th President of the United States of America. The statement then says NFL players work to bring communities together and politics is the antithesis of such. There is little need to contend with this point. Politics can be divisive, and a prime example of such was NFL players using politics as the motivation behind kneeling during the national anthem in support of causes such as Black Lives Matter.

Mr. Kraft, if the NFL players you speak of are as intelligent and thoughtful as you purport, why do they spit in the faces of half their fans by protesting the National Anthem? 

Better than anyone in the NFL, Kraft understands President Trump is not a racist, nor the raging “Nazi” the media paints him as. The statement attempts to explain the motive behind the players’ decisions to protest the National Anthem, but fails to extend the same curiosity to Trump.

Rather than isolate a patriotic fanbase bristling at game day protests, Kraft should have attempted to explain the President’s position as well, demonstrating the emotionally charged issue of race in America has two sides. And in the battle of ideas, both should be given equal consideration — not one-sided, preferential attention. Most strikingly absent from Kraft’s statement was the sentiment that above all else, these differences in opinion can and will be reconciled.

Stating the President’s comments were an attack on the good that NFL players do for communities suggests at the very least that Trump is partly ignorant to the plight of minority communities. The President won more votes from the African-American and Hispanic community than Mitt Romney did in 2012. It’s conceivable Trump would have received fewer votes from the African-American community if his general election opponent was black, but dismissing then-candidate Trump’s aggressive outreach to inner cities across America would be foolish.

Trump fought hard to win the votes of those living in Baltimore and Detroit because the man actually cares about them. He doesn’t require a handler to brandish a bottle of hot sauce during interviews with Hip-Hop heads or deploy ebonics when speaking to those eager to uphold Martin Luther King’s legacy.

You know the creature in question who does such things.

As is the case with Harry Potter’s Lord Voldemort, “she is the person who must not be named.”

Trump has been supporting causes near and dear to the African-American community for years. While he might be singing a different tune today, Jesse Jackson once praised Trump as a champion for minority empowerment.

Daily Caller reports:

In both 1998 and 1999, Trump was an honored guest at the annual Wall Street Conference hosted by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Jackson’ DC-based “multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international membership organization fighting for social change.”

[…]

Jackson introduced his Trump — whom he called a “friend” — at the same conference in 1999, where this time he was invited to speak on the “challenges and opportunities to embrace under-served communities.”

“He is deceptive in that his social style is of such, one can miss his seriousness and commitment to success, which is beyond argument,” Jackson said Trump.

“When we opened this Wall Street project,” he continued. “He gave us space at 40 Wall Street, which was to make a statement about our having a presence there.”

As Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) recently told KUTV, President Trump “doesn’t have a racist bone in his body,” and has “done a lot,” to fight racism.

On Sunday, President Trump reiterated his disapproval of on-field protests, once again, stating his view is driven by patriotism, not race.

Yahoo News reports:

President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that an intensifying feud with National Football League players who won’t stand during the US national anthem to draw attention to social injustice, has “nothing to do with race.”

[…]

Before boarding Air Force One in New Jersey to head back to Washington, Trump declined to repeat the comments he posted on Twitter earlier, saying instead the protests were “disrespectful to our country and very disrespectful to our flag.”

He said “the owners should do something about it.”

[…]

“We have a great country. We have great people representing our country, especially our soldiers and first responders. They can be treated with respect,” Trump said, speaking under the wing of the plane.

“When you get on your knee and you don’t respect the American flag or the anthem that is not being treated with respect… This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country, and respect for our flag.”

Rather than merely lecturing Trump, Kraft gave a masterclass in disloyalty, virtue signaling the President’s position as anti-black, rather than pro-patriotism. Of course, there’s always the prospect Kraft’s statement was more about protecting his golden goose, instead of defending social justice. And to be fair, Kraft’s friendship with Trump has most certainly caused the Patriots owner to draw fire from his peers. Yet akin to Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley titan who caused a firestorm for backing Trump, Kraft “bet on the winning horse,” affording him the type of White House access other business leaders could only dream of.

And I’m not talking about dining with the President and Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe — Kraft could leverage his access to offer solutions to daunting challenges facing the U.S., such as one-sided trade and a broken tax system.

Photo credit: Daily Mail UK

Robert Kraft attacked President Trump in the same spirit as his most vicious and dishonest detractors. It’s my hope Kraft has the door slammed shut on his mug the next time he seeks a pow-wow over steak tartar at Mar-a-Lago with his “good friend,” President Donald J. Trump.

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