Tom Brady has become the target of anti-Trump followers as the Super Bowl nears, leaving the New England Patriots quarterback to duck questions during Media Day Monday about his friendship with the president.
Brady, 39, who has led the Patriots to the team's NFL-record ninth Super Bowl appearance, tried to keep the topic away from politics Monday when he was asked about President Donald Trump and his administration's actions.
"What's going on in the world? I haven't paid much attention," Brady said, according to The Washington Times. "I'm just a positive person."
Brady and Trump have been friends since long before Trump's political run, but the quarterback faced more questions about the real estate mogul turned president after he was spotted in 2015 with one of Trump's "Make America Great Again" hats.
"I'm so, so sick of Brady's 'Who, what, me?' routine, even as he was used as a prop throughout Trump's campaign," wrote Barry Petchesky of the sports website Deadspin. "Let's be clear: Under ordinary circumstances, athletes' politics are their own, and they shouldn't be expected to have to explain them more than anyone else. But that goes two ways. These are extraordinary circumstances — unprecedented, history-altering circumstances — and the country feels like it's coming apart."
USA Today columnist Nancy Armour charged that Brady must explain his support for Trump, pointing to the current controversy over the Trump administration's executive order on immigration targeting Syrian refugees and residents from seven Muslim-majority that has led to nationwide protests.
"Tom Brady no longer gets a pass on his friendship with Donald Trump," Armour wrote. "Not after this weekend, when the country boiled over in rage and indignation at Trump's decision to turn America's back on refugees. Not after this season, when Colin Kaepernick was pilloried from coast to coast for trying to draw attention to the shortcomings of our country."
Brady continued to defend his silence on Trump in a USA Today interview Tuesday.
"If people want to take sides, you know, they can obviously do that," Brady said in the interview. "It's everyone's right. They have a right to do that. And I have a right to stay out of it, too. I want to keep my focus on where it should be for me at this moment. I'm trying to be the best that I can be for my team. And I don't want to bring any distractions to our team. I don't want to bring any negativity to our team. We have enough of that as it is."
Brady's teammate, tight end Martellus Bennett, told a reporter Monday he likely would not join the team at the Trump White House if the Patriots win the Super Bowl.
USA Today reported that Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who is Muslim, declined to answer a question about the Trump administration's immigration ban, adding that he would speak on the subject after the Super Bowl.
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