BOSTON (CBS) — With the Patriots releasing Stephen Gostkowski earlier this offseason, the team was expected to draft a kicker. Not many people predicted this kicker, though.
Instead of opting for the near-unanimous top options at kicker in Rodrigo Blankenship or Tyler Bass, Bill Belichick went with Justin Rohrwasser out of Marshall.
Though Rohrwasser didn’t rank highly on many draft analysts’ lists, he put together some impressive stats last season for the Thundering Herd. He was 18-for-21 on field goals last season, including going 2-for-2 on kicks of 50 yards or more and 5-for-6 in the 40-49-yard range. He also hit 118 of 123 PATs in his career.
Shortly after the Patriots drafted him with the 159th overall pick, a bit of controversy arose online, due to photos circulating that showed a tattoo on his arm. That tattoo was for a logo of the “Three Percenters,” a group that has attracted controversy in recent years. That controversy largely stemmed from the Three Percenters providing security at the violence-filled Charlotesville rally in 2017.
Local politics angle! The kicker the Patriots picked appears to have a Three Percenter tattoo. That of course is the militia group whose Washington branch is commonly associated with none other than Spokane Valley State Representative Matt Shea. https://t.co/KXZcrBy4ME pic.twitter.com/rMYfJ5bu5q
— Casey Decker (@KREMCasey) April 25, 2020
DISCOURSE! I DEMAND IT! pic.twitter.com/x2ONruBNWO
— Justis Mosqueda (Draft Day 46) (@JuMosq) April 25, 2020
During his talk with New England reporters on a conference call, Rohrwasser was asked about the tattoo. He quickly and unequivocally renounced the group, and said that he will be covering the tattoo.
“I got that tattoo when I was a teenager,” Rohrwasser said. “I have a lot of family in the military. I thought it stood for a military support symbol at the time. And obviously it evolved into something that I do not want to represent. And when I look back on it, I should have done way more research before I put any mark or symbol like that on my body. It’s not something that I ever want to represent. It will be covered.”
According to their official website, The Three Percenters claim to be a group “standing against and exposing corruption and injustice.” The website also claims that the group is not a militia, is not anti-government and does not believe in violence.
The Anti-Defamation League, however, considers the group to be part of an “extremist movement” that promotes “the idea that the federal government is plotting to take away the rights of American citizens and must be resisted.” Vice explained the group’s thinking that “if a small group of armed citizens could fend off the British, the thinking goes, a militia can still single-handedly battle ‘tyranny’ today — as long as it still has guns.” They are considered a dangerous group in Canada, as well.
Rohrwasser made it as clear as possible that he does not intend to align himself with the group, as he embarks on his NFL career.
“I think [the Patriots are] getting a hard worker and somebody who is going to chase after the best version of himself and a good teammate. I want to do my best in order to help the team win,” he said. “I’m going to give all my heart into it, I’m gonna work my butt off, I’m gonna train hard and just put my head down and go to work and just try to do the best that I can and be the best version of myself.”