I originally fell in love with Tom Brady in 2001, when I was one of a few black students on a predominantly white college campus. Tom Brady was then an unknown rose from the bench after he replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe as Quarterback. That season, he would go on to lead the New England Patriots to their first Super Bowl victory. On the day of the scheduled celebration for the first Super Bowl title for the franchise I — and what seemed like the entire white campus — descended into the city to witness the messiah and his disciples’ triumphant return. One million people showed up, clambering for every available inch, just for a glimpse or, if blessed, to be able to touch the stage Tom Brady and his Patriots floated on. In the middle of the swarming frenzy, I, the ignored black kid with the failing grades, stood in the middle of this celebration and felt like a winner, for once. In the years that followed, Tom Brady continued to win his way to being mentioned as one the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, while my grades continued to plummet until I finally dropped out and fell back into the ghettos of Massachusetts.

Fast forward to this past 2015-2016 NFL season. During the first regular season game of the year, I stood in the middle of the largely white crowd jubilantly willing my mostly white Patriots to another victory. Afterward, I waited around to watch the end game interviews in the locker room. Behind the news anchor neatly nestled next to Tom Brady’s number 12 jersey, I saw a scarlet hat with bold white letters that read,“Make America Great Again.” I’d grown accustomed to seeing that hat modeled by some yarn-chewing, tobacco-spitting farmer from some forgotten American city Donald Trump needed to win in order to continue his assault on democracy, but to see Tom Brady — the only white man I have ever rooted for — boldly display his political affiliation was something entirely different. The slogan, “Make America Great Again” is not a new idea. America has repeatedly used this ideology to justify the many heinous acts committed to black people in this country. Slavery, Cross burnings, “the war on drugs,” were all done in the name of “Making America Great Again.” Lynched black bodies hung from lamp post because they attempted to vote. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered by people who thought America was losing its greatness. Cointelpro was designed by men who believed in “Making America Great.” Based on these examples, when was America ever great? Was America great when my grandfather living in the Jim Crow south was denied a loan to help feed his 14 children, simply because he was sinfully black. Or maybe America was great when the red-faced officer snatched Justin, my 8th grade classmate, from amongst my troublemaking group and brought him underneath the train tracks, where he pressed a gun to his young black face and threatened to kill “his n*gger ass”? Was America great then? Tom Brady appears to think so.

Not too long ago, hearing the news about Tom Brady’s four-game suspension would have upset me. But that was when I actually believed Tom Brady was rooting for me to win. I realize now that his ideas of injustice are not the same as mine. His ideas about America’s greatness do not include me. They never have and probably never will. I guess that’s why they call him a Patriot.

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