Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady appeared in a Zoom press conference Tuesday to talk about Sunday’s Super Bowl game versus Kansas City. The media turned the event into an ambush on Brady over his past friendship with Donald Trump and the issue of racism.
USA Today’s Nancy Armour cornered Brady and then she and Huffington Post’s Ron Dicker pilloried him in their stories.
Armour made an issue of when, in 2015, Brady’s New England Patriots’ locker displayed a “Make America Great Again” hat, and he said Trump had done “amazing things.” She also tried to get a reaction from Brady on Shannon Sharpe’s claim, on Fox Sports “The Undisputed” show, that Brady would have “endured far more criticism for the MAGA hat if he were Black.” Sharpe said:
“Let’s just say for the sake of argument, LeBron James says, ‘My friend Minister Farrakhan.” How would America react? You see, Blacks have always had to be very, very quiet about who our friends are. They made Obama disavow Rev. Wright. Donald Trump stand front and center with David Duke! A lot of these radical ministers that says things that are controversial! He doesn’t have to say, ‘I don’t know who they are.’ All he says is ‘I don’t know who they are.’ LeBron James can never say, a prominent Black athlete can never say, ‘Minister Farrakhan is just my friend.’ They try to cancel anybody with just for the mere mention of Mr. Farrakhan’s name! Because we like Tom Brady.”
Sharpe overlooked the fact that Trump denounced Duke nearly five years ago. Also, Brady has distinctly distanced himself from Trump in recent years, skipping a Patriots visit to the White House and refusing to endorse the former president. It’s hardly what anyone would call a tight friendship, but darn those stubborn facts, Sharpe's mind is made up.
In Dicker’s HuffPost story, he says, “If you’ve never watched a quarterback dance without actually seeing his feet, this was the moment.” This is based on Brady’s response to the ambush:
“I’m not sure how to respond to hypothetical questions like that. I hope everyone can — we’re in this position like I am to, again, try to be the best I can be every day as an athlete, as a player, as a person in my community, for my team and so forth, so yeah, I’m not sure what else.”
“Note the hesitation followed by visible relief that the interview was moving on,” Dicker continued. “If he can be that elusive against the Kansas City Chiefs, he may well indeed win his seventh Super Bowl title.”
Armour, who has written frequently and contemptuously of President Trump and people associated with him, wrote:
“The Make America Great Again hat in his locker, the flippant endorsement of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Only when those ties became inconvenient did Brady decide he wanted to ‘stick to sports,’ and that he preferred to be a beacon of positivity rather than delve into society’s thorny ills.
“How mighty white of him.”
Additionally, Armour said Brady’s ability to enter and exit debate on Trump at his choosing is to duck accountability and is “the height of white privilege. As this country grapples with the far reaches of systemic racism, look no further than Brady, for whom the expectations, and allowances granted, will always be different.”
Brady has had several opportunities to walk back past Trump support, as Armour and the media wish he would do. Instead, Brady is displaying “moral cowardice” and has been allowed to divorce himself from his friendship with Trump while Black athletes are forced to own their views forever, Armour whines.
Talk about a manufactured crisis used to exploit the giant stage of the Super Bowl. This is it.