Patriots' Robert Kraft, close friend to Trump, condemns president's NFL comments

In the hours after Donald Trump ripped NFL players who protest in comments at a Friday rally, roughly a dozen teams each released an individual statement condemning the president's comments

The group of teams that spoke out against the president, included: the Bills, Dolphins, Chargers, Broncos, Colts, Titans, Eagles, Giants, Packers, Falcons Seahawks and 49ers

Notably absent from that list was a statement from any team owned by a Trump friend or supporter. Robert Kraft (Patriots), Jerry Jones (Cowboys), Woody Johnson (Jets), Stan Kroenke (Rams), Dan Snyder (Redskins), Shahid Khan (Jaguars) and Bob McNair (Texans) are among the seven NFL owners who donated at least $1 million to Trump's inauguration fund or campaign, and as of Saturday, all had remained silent on the issue of Trump's comments. 

However, that changed on Sunday when one of Trump's biggest supporters in the NFL -- Robert Kraft -- released a statement saying he was disappointed in the president's comments. 

"I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday," Kraft said. "I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. Their efforts, both on and off the field, help bring people together and make our community stronger."

Kraft also added that he views politics as a highly divisive issue. 

"There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics.," Kraft said. "I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal. Our players are intelligent, thoughtful, and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful."

Kraft and Trump became close in 2011 after Kraft's wife, Myra died. 

"When Myra died [in 2011], Melania [Trump] and Donald came up to the funeral in our synagogue, then they came for memorial week to visit with me," Kraft said in January. "Then he called me once a week for the whole year, the most depressing year of my life when I was down and out. He called me every week to see how I was doing, invited me to things, tried to lift my spirits. He was one of five or six people that were like that. I remember that."

Although Kraft said he supports the players' rights to "peacefully affect social change," no Patriots players have taken a knee  during the anthem since August 2016, when Colin Kaepernick started protesting. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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