BOSTON (CBS) — For a kicker, getting drafted at all is a dream come true. For a kicker from a smaller school who is hardly ranked in any pre-draft analyses, getting drafted is a borderline miracle.
Yet for new Patriots kicker Justin Rohrwasser, the experience of getting drafted quickly turned into a bit of a nightmare when images of a tattoo on his left arm quickly spread on social media and created an instant controversy.
That tattoo was the logo for The Three Percenters, a group considered by the Anti-Defamation League to be 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.”
Rohrwasser immediately faced questions about the tattoo when talking with New England reporters shortly after being drafted, and the next day, he reportedly was overwhelmed with emotion.
“He just broke down crying in the car,” Rohrwasser’s high school football coach John Barber told The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin. “My first reaction was, ‘Where are you? I’ll come get you.’ He said, ‘No, I’m fine, I’m driving home.'”
Rohrwasser was certainly still emotional the following day, when he told WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton that he’ll be removing the tattoo and that he feels badly for people who have had to defend his character.
Volin’s story noted that Rohrwasser is an outspoken conservative who wore a Make America Great hat around the URI campus during the 2016 election cycle. Yet Volin spoke to numerous former coaches and teammates who vigorously defended Rohrwasser and said the kicker is not an extremist and is not intolerant of other people’s beliefs.
“For him to be called a racist thug and a Nazi and Hitler, it just turns my stomach, because that’s not who he is,” Barber told Volin. “What should’ve been the best day of his life … people that — I’m trying to be polite — they don’t understand the full story of who he is, just want to take something out of context and destroy a kid, which wasn’t called for. … His senior year, he dated my niece for five to six months. He’s a good kid. When we talked on Sunday, he broke right down crying. So it was difficult.”