Late last month, Morehouse College professor David Dennis Jr. penned an article explaining how Tom Brady placing Donald Trump's 'Make America Great Again' hat in his locker room back in September 2015 was far more dangerous and un-American than Colin Kaepernick ever exhibited during his national anthem protest.
Upon reading it, we didn't hesitate getting Dennis on the phone to expound on those thoughts. Here, Dennis speaks more about that comparison, the fact that the five-time Super Bowl champion never spoke out against Trump's Muslim travel ban, and what it will mean if Brady visits Trump's White House when many of his teammates have vowed not to.
From the strategic way in which Tom Brady placed the "Make America Great Again" hat in his locker to almost acting like it had just so happened to be sitting there, is that what makes his politics so dangerous?
It’s part of his privilege that he is able to make such a political statement and then brush it off. His ability to say, ‘I just focus on the positive, I’m not really into politics’ … well, you made a political statement. To say Make America Great Again is an inherently anti-Black, anti-Hispanic, anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT, anti-women in many ways-statement to make because for us, it’s like when was America ever really great?
Kaepernick, by contrast, he sat down during the national anthem and it took a journalist to notice it before the questions started coming. Brady was and still is allowed to still sort of get away with it. Kaepernick — imagine if the [San Francisco] 49ers made the Super Bowl. That’s all they would be asking him about — his reaction to the national anthem. So, Brady was allowed to escape. He was and is putting a dangerous message out there that he really hasn’t answered for it.
We recently set up a phone call between Killer Mike and Shannon Sharpe. Mike asked Shannon about Kaepernick and the former Super Bowl champion pointed out how people criticized Kaep about disrespecting the national anthem, the flag and military even though the 49ers' QB repeatedly made it clear that he was protesting to combat racism and police brutality and putting his money where his mouth is. The backlash that Kaepernick got from this was severe. In comparison, it feels like mainstream media sort of let Brady gloss over the Trump hat being in his locker. Are you surprised by that?
I’m not surprised at all. First, it was that Kaepernick was disrespecting the troops. Then the troops come out and say, "We’re supporting Kaepernick," and then he donates money. What bothers people about Kaepernick is he is able to answer the questions. They’ve never been able to jam him up on anything that they’ve asked him. Has he made mistakes? He has, but he has allowed himself to make those mistakes by being so upfront and saying what he really believes. He’s an educated, woke, passionate Black man. And Tom Brady is a guy who is allowed to skate by. That just speaks to the way outspoken Black men and women are treated and white guys, especially in the media, get to skate by.
Trump signed an executive order for his Muslim travel ban, which was later overruled by a federal appeals court. Does the fact that Brady never spoke out against the ban — as divisive as it is — show his true intentions?
Yeah, he didn’t come out and say anything against it and also he wasn’t pushed to. He was not really required to disown or disavow Trump’s really hateful policy. Think about that in contrast to even LeBron James, who is surrounded by businessmen at all times and [New York Knicks president] Phil Jackson called them his "posse." You take a look at Black athletes and they’re always being judged for who they’re hanging around. It’s, "Oh, you got your guys from the hood and they’re hangers-on, they’re not good for you." Meanwhile, Tom Brady is with somebody who’s about as hateful and has shown as much hatred towards other people that I could think of and he’s not asked to reconcile with those thoughts that Donald Trump has. That’s just the double standard.
Why do you think Tom Brady’s feet haven’t been held to the fire for answers about the hat and his friendship with Trump the way Black athletes are held accountable for anything even remotely controversial?
I heard some sports people saying, "Tom Brady needs to focus on the Super Bowl." Well, last year, Cam Newton was asked all kinds of questions about dabbing and being a Black quarterback. If Colin Kaepernick was in the Super Bowl, this is not something that will let him focus on the game. We’re looking at how America has a history in silencing Black thought, Black independence, Black activism. That’s in the blueprint that is in the DNA of this country.
White guys don’t have to deal with that sort of same backlash or silencing when it comes to their beliefs — no matter what they are. We could compare Trump to President Obama left and right, but our president, President Obama, couldn’t even go to the same church because the pastor was saying some things that the rest of the country didn’t like. Are you really upset with Kaepernick because you feel like he’s disrespecting the troops or are you upset with a Black man speaking his mind?
Six Patriots players have announced that they won’t visit Trump’s White House to be honored for their Super Bowl LI win. What would it say about Brady, [Patriots coach] Bill Belichick and [Patriots owner] Bob Kraft if they visit Trump’s White House when they have sort of danced around their friendship with the president and while knowing several players are not attending?
It will say that Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft support Donald Trump. They’re going to hide behind, "Oh, this is tradition," and the media is going to ignore the fact that Brady refused to visit Obama when they won the Super Bowl the last time. I fully anticipate them to go visit Donald Trump. I don’t know how many teammates they’re going to have with them, but they might be the last team that visits the White House for a long time. I think it will just show another example of them showing their support for him no matter what and we’re going to see that they’re not going to have to answer to it.
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(Photo from left: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images, Noam Galai/WireImage, Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)