Remember when Tom Brady was one of the only NFL players publicly supporting Donald Trump? It wasn’t that long ago, but those were much simpler times. It was long before Trump had a realistic chance of becoming a presidential candidate, and most people thought Brady’s support was funny.
Today, you probably won’t find too many NFL players standing around and chuckling if Trump’s name is brought up. Bleacher Report published a report on Wednesday called "Donald Trump Is Tearing the NFL Apart," and as you would probably guess by looking at the title, it’s all about how a rift now exists in some NFL locker rooms as a result of Trump’s political success. Very few players agreed to go on the record with B/R—outside of Bills offensive lineman Richie Incognito, of course—but the piece is peppered with quotes from anonymous players who spoke about the damaging effect Trump is having on their respective locker rooms.
"Rex [Ryan] is such an open-minded guy, a really good person," one black Bills player said while talking about his head coach, who introduced Trump at a rally in April. "But the fact he could back someone as close-minded as Trump genuinely shocked me…Some of the African-American players on the team weren’t happy about Rex doing that."
Another black player who spoke with B/R—no word on what team he plays for—said that he has been arguing with a white teammate regularly about Trump. "I was talking Trump and Hillary [Clinton] with a white teammate, and the conversation was fine," he said. "Things got a little heated when he said, 'Trump isn’t racist.' I don’t know how anyone doesn’t see how that’s just not true. We talked about that statement for two days. We were taking a break during practice maybe four days or so after our last conversation about Trump. He came up to me and said, 'Here’s why Trump’s not racist and Hillary is.' Then we argued for another day. It was sort of heated again."
And then there are two NFC teammates—again, it’s unclear which team they play for—who are basically no longer friends due to one of them supporting Trump:
In mid-May, as Trump became the presumptive nominee, two NFC teammates—a right-leaning offensive lineman and a left-leaning linebacker—began to re-examine their friendship because of Trump.
They had known each other for four years. Their wives talked on occasion. Their kids sometimes played together. They sat next to each other in team meetings and went to dinner several times per month. They often joked that politics were off-limits because of their disparate viewpoints. Then, after their first offseason team workout in May, the lineman revealed he would be voting for Trump—and everything changed.
The linebacker, a Clinton supporter, began finding excuses for not going to dinner. The families stopped talking. When the lineman confronted his now former friend, he recalls receiving a blunt response: I can’t be friends with anyone who would vote for Donald Trump. I’m sorry.
We would imagine there are lots of other people experiencing these same kinds of conflicts at their workplaces. But it’s clear that the NFL locker room is probably not the best place to discuss politics right now. You can check out the entire B/R story here.