The Patriots have a Trump problem

The Clinton-Kaine signs were still adult on a afternoon of Dec. 24, sagging in a sleet like tombstones of hope. They flashed by a windows as we gathering by my hometown of Lincoln, Mass., where 77.7 percent of residents voted for Hillary Clinton. Hanging off porches behind some of a Clinton signs were New England Patriots flags.

For over a decade now, people outward of New England have reviled a Patriots for branch winning into a scholarship and, many believe, intrigue to do so. Pats fans doubled-down in response, and a extreme faithfulness took bottom in Massachusetts that, by a sagas of Spygate and Deflategate, seemed unshakable.

But recently, that blind faith has faced a biggest exam in a form of a team’s tie to Republican President-elect Donald Trump.

The difficulty began when Patriots reporters speckled Brady with a Make America Great Again shawl in his locker in Foxboro in a tumble of 2015 (feels like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?), shortly after Trump announced his candidacy and called Mexicans rapists in a same speech. Over a past year and a half, a team’s ties to Trump have usually grown stronger.


It isn’t intolerable that Patriots fans would have difficulty with this relationship: Massachusetts was a usually state in a nation where every county went for Hillary Clinton. Massachusetts does have counties that tend to be incomparable than those of other states, and some towns went for Trump — namely a rope in executive Massachusetts and a cluster nearby Rhode Island. But even many of a operative class, white towns on Cape Cod and surrounding Boston voted for Clinton. She won 60.8 percent of a state. Trump took usually 33.5 percent.

In fact, all of New England went for Clinton. And yet, a Patriots are a usually group whose conduct coach, star quarterback, and rich owners have such a long-running, open attribute with a Republican president-elect, who’s one of a many divisive and fear-inspiring total in a story of American politics.

Not all Massachusetts fans are disturbed by a team’s Trump connection, of march — a Pats are still extravagantly popular. They were personification a Jets as we gathering by city on Christmas Eve, and a streets were that sold kind of dull that falls over a state when a diversion is on. Driveways hold additional cars. TVs flickered in windows.

But no matter how we feel about Trump or a Patriots, a law is that one of a bluest states has a reddest team.

* * *

I was operative for when Deflategate started in early 2015. It felt like a non-scandal was all we wrote about and all anyone in Boston talked about for months — even problematic total like U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman, who ruled in Tom Brady’s favor, became heroes, ancillary protagonists in a unequivocally tedious sports thriller. we once overheard a few guys in a Boston bar lift their beers and toast, “TO JUDGE BERMAN!”

That moral indignation usually fueled a Pats-fans-against-the-world talent that began to take figure after Spygate in 2007, when a NFL trained a group for videotaping a Jets’ defensive coaches. Since then, it’s seemed like everybody outward of a L.L. Bean Boot-heavy (a association currently struggling with a Trump problem of a own) states thinks a Pats are cheaters. No one likes cheaters who win all a time.

Patriots fans have therefore spent a past 10 years fortifying Brady, Belichick, and Kraft, a region’s holy trinity. Brady’s been a God given he and his chiseled jawline stepped onto a territory during Gillette Stadium roughly 20 years ago and started proof all a haters wrong. Speaking badly about “Tommy” in Boston is like trashing a Pope when you’re inside a Vatican: At best, sacrilegious. At worst, a genocide wish.

And afterwards came Trump.

I remember a startle that went around a internet when a shawl cinema surfaced. Trump was mostly still a fun then, so some suspicion that maybe Brady was usually messing with a media. Others hoped someone had given a shawl to him ironically and he hadn’t gotten absolved of it yet.

That meditative incited out to be wishful: Brady went on to contend it’d be “great” if his “friend” Trump won a election, and afterwards after walked those comments back. Trump told The New York Times shortly thereafter: “Tom Brady is a good crony of mine. He’s a leader and he likes winners.”


In a NFL offseason, Bill Belichick’s partner Linda Holliday posted an Instagram of herself and Belichick with Trump (she also posted a print with Kid Rock, yet we digress). This fall, Brady refused to denounce Trump’s “locker room talk” in a press conference, withdrawal a theatre instead of addressing a reporter’s doubt per a fasten in that Trump bragged about grabbing women “by a pussy.” Brady afterwards spoke about how Trump has been his friend for 16 years (the dual are golfing buddies) on Boston sports radio.

Brady declined to contend who he’d opinion for, yet his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, denied on Instagram that she and Brady would opinion for Trump. The quarterback himself never went open with his choice, observant instead during a press discussion that his mother told him not to pronounce about politics anymore.

The night before a election, Trump pronounced that Brady and Belichick upheld him, and review out shrill a minute that Belichick wrote him — in that Belichick commended a claimant for doing doing a “tremendous” pursuit — during a convene in New Hampshire. When asked about a letter, Belichick said that it was not politically motivated. On Nov. 16, a few days after a election, Kraft was seen entering Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Patriots aren’t a usually total in a NFL who’ve buddied adult to Trump: Rex Ryan (R.I.P. his career with a Bills), for example, introduced a president-elect during a rally. There were many pieces created this tumble about how many white players upheld Trump.

But a Patriots’ attribute is different: It’s been a many public, and a group is one of a most renouned and many successful franchises. They have, arguably, a many reputable coach, a quarterback who is streamer for — if he hasn’t already reached — G.O.A.T. status, and substantially a second-most absolute owners in a NFL. They also have one of a top-five biggest fan bases in a top-five media market.

That media marketplace also happens to be one of a many liberal. And a claimant a group is so connected to ran with a many non-liberal (and racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, Islamaphobic, etc.) rhetoric.

Being a sports fan mostly means branch a blind eye to a domestic opinions and spasmodic deplorable actions of your jaunty heroes. Being a fan of any luminary final this — usually ask anyone who listens to Kanye West. The 2016 choosing cycle, however, was decidedly not politics as usual. Trump’s whole discuss was dirty with revelations — such as his refusing to lease apartments to black tenants decades ago, posting anti-Semitic memes, proposing a anathema on Muslims from entering a nation and forcing them to place themselves on a registry, bragging about intimately assaulting women — that would’ve stirred other politicians to repel from a race.

In a past, if a team’s politics didn’t align with those of a fan base, many fans could live with it. But a diversion got approach uglier, and many people seem to be struggling: Fans flocked to Brady’s Facebook page a day Trump review a minute in New Hampshire to leave comments about how unhappy they were. Countless New England loyalists I’ve talked to over a past dual months have told me that their idols are wobbling on their pedestals.

For some, they’ve shattered.

* * *

I was during a area holiday celebration in Lincoln a few days before Christmas, articulate to a relatives of several friends we grew adult with. They asked about my job, so a review incited to sports. And then, naturally, to a Patriots. And then, naturally, to Trump.

“Oh, Susan Pease won’t even watch anymore,” one of my friend’s moms said. “She used to watch any Sunday with her family, and now she usually can’t do it.”

I called Pease a few days after to ask her if this was true.

“Yeah, we usually will not watch,” she said. “I unequivocally suffer examination a diversion with my family. we like what it means for my family to lay down and pronounce and giggle and watch and mangle and now … we just, it’s usually busted for me. It’s not a misfortune thing about this, of march — this whole thing stems from my extensive beating over this choosing and country. But it will perpetually tone my opinion of a team. we will not watch, we will not buy any some-more jerseys. I’m done.”

Over a march of stating this story, I’ve perceived large emails and Facebook messages from people in Massachusetts revelation me how unhappy they are in their team. Writing those letters roughly seemed like gushing for many: Several finished with sentiments along a lines of “it feels so good to get this off my chest,” and “I’ve been meditative about this so much.”

Some of these records we got were filled with anger. People wrote things like “Fuck Brady,” and “I used to consider Belichick was a talent and now we hatred him,” and “I indeed take pleasure when they lose.” Pease isn’t alone — during slightest 6 other people told me they can’t bear to watch Pats games anymore, either. A few told me that they were looking for a reason to give football adult already since they find a NFL incorrigible and what it does to men’s bodies indefensible. Trump was a final straw that separated any feelings of loyalty.

Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Many fans, however, are still examination games and rooting for a Pats. Joe Martini, who lives in Boston, grew adult an fervent Patriots fan in Arlington, Mass., and voted for Trump, told me that Brady shabby his certain opinion of a candidate.

“I demeanour during Brady’s publicity of Trump a small differently,” he said. “Some people who do not support Trump demeanour during it as a hit on Brady, yet we demeanour during it as a good pointer for a chairman Donald Trump is. If we demeanour during a male Tom Brady presents himself as, and a values he tries to teach in teammates, many of them minorities, and his family, his mother is a Brazilian immigrant, we would have to suppose he sees those same values in Trump to support him.”

Even if, distinct Martini, fans were frightened by Trump himself, many told me that they reputable everyone’s right to their possess opinion. They disturbed that if they started holding Trump opposite Brady, they’d be going down a trail of dividing an already divided nation even more.

What many people on possibly side of a aisle did have a tough time stomaching, however, was Belichick’s defilement of his possess despotic media policy. Even yet we don’t know who Belichick voted for — or if he voted during all — some fans saw his minute to Trump as a blatant defilement of a one order he’s always preached: No distractions.

In fact, a denunciation in a minute seemed so out of impression that people had difficulty desiring it was genuine during first. we positively did — we done a fun on Twitter that Belichick wrote all of my college letters of recommendation when a story pennyless since we found it so strange. My phone blew adult as friends texted me that they were certain Trump wrote a minute himself. Belichick, they reasoned in a panic, is famously plain-spoken and short. He wouldn’t use Trump-specific disproportion like “tremendous,” nor would he brave mangle his possess ethos.

But Belichick did. He wrote a letter, doesn’t seem to have told Trump he couldn’t review it out shrill (Brady, however, pragmatic during a press discussion that maybe he hadn’t given Trump accede to pronounce about him that night), and afterwards defended it.

Enjoyed cooking during Mar-a-Lago this dusk with a good crony Donald Trump

A print posted by Linda Holliday✨ (@lindaholliday_) on Mar 5, 2016 during 8:25pm PST

Fans found this conditions extravagantly hypocritical. Jeff Kirchick, a revolutionary Pats fan from Massachusetts who now lives in New York City, took a minute quite hard.

“In their personal time, a lot of these guys substantially do a lot of things we don’t determine with,” pronounced Kirchick. “That’s not my business. But what they do on a margin is my business. It’s what we watch.

“So when Belichick takes a position on a need to be focused,” he continued, “on ‘doing your job,’ and afterwards when it’s available for him to do something that serves him and a loyalty with Donald Trump, he does it? That’s a profanation from a fan’s perspective. When it serves him, he can do that, yet when a media has questions about applicable things to a diversion he dismisses them and shuns them since we need to ‘stay focused on a subsequent opponent.”

The distractions, Kirchick believes, harm a tangible diversion a Patriots were playing: The week of a election, a group mislaid to a Seahawks. It was close, yet New England’s invulnerability couldn’t stop Doug Baldwin and Russell Wilson in a fourth entertain and also couldn’t answer with points of their own. It was one of usually dual waste in a unchanging season, and a usually diversion Tom Brady unsuccessful to win in 2016.

* * *

It’s tough to have a review about a Patriots but articulate about Trump anymore. The tie reverberates distant over a place we grew up.

I watch it occur online all a time. I’ve created about a Patriots a satisfactory volume in a past few weeks as a NFL playoffs got underway. The square that got a many views was about how I wish we have a Patriots-Cowboys Super Bowl. we looked during a essay a few days after it published and saw it had 235 comments. Even yet we didn’t discuss Trump during all in a piece, before we corkscrew down to a review a comments, we knew they’d be about a team’s tie to him.

They were. Some people were fortifying a Pats, observant everyone’s entitled to their possess opinion. Others announced they hated New England even some-more now since they were aligned with a monster. Others were saying, “who cares?” Most of a comments fast derailed — as comments are cannot to do — into a extreme discuss about politics with unequivocally small discuss of football.

No matter how anyone feels about a group or a president-elect, a dual have turn as woven into any other’s histories as Trump’s hair is to his head. The disproportion is that while a rest of a nation doesn’t unequivocally have a interest in this connection, Patriots fans in magnanimous Massachusetts who find Trump offensive have to fastener with a romantic implications. Patriotism in a age of Trump, it turns out, is a wily thing to navigate.

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