NFL hall of famer Mike “Iron Mike” Ditka unloaded on reporters seeking to get New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to discuss his friendship with President Donald Trump, presumably in an attempt to elicit some kind of condemnation.
The comments came Thursday during a phone interview on WABC-AM’s “Bernie & Sid Show.”
“These people are — can I say this? — assholes. Now, when you don’t have a choice anymore in our country — when people disagree with my choice, fine. That’s what made America great. There’s gonna be disagreements,” Ditka said.
Ditka would add that he would be surprised if Trump can “possibly screw it up nearly half as much as Obama.”
“I like Donald Trump. I think he’s the best man, the best-qualified person. I think he’ll do a great job for Americans. There’s a lot of people out there who don’t think that. But we’ll have to wait and see. Let him do his job first. If he can possibly screw it up nearly half as much as Obama, I’ll be surprised,” he said.
It is a well-established fact that Tom Brady and President Trump are friends.
You may recall that on the night before the election, Trump announced to a crowd of his supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire, that he had Tom Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick on his side.
“[Tom] called today and he said, ‘Donald, I support you, you’re my friend, and I voted for you,’” Trump said at the time.
“And I said, ‘So Tom. You voted for me, you support me, am I allowed to say it tonight at this massive crowd in New Hampshire?’ He said, ‘If you want to say it, you can say it.’ OK? Tom, that’s what a champ is all about.”
Brady was asked about the phone call again on Monday.
“Why does that make such a big deal? I don’t understand that,” Brady told WEEI. “I have called him, yes, in the past. Sometimes he calls me, sometimes I call him.”
“I always try to keep it in context. For 16 years you know someone before maybe he was in the position that he was in,” he said. “And he’s been very supportive of me for a long time. It’s just a friendship. I’ve got a lot of friends. I call a lot of people.”
“If you know someone, it doesn’t mean you agree with everything that they say or do,” Brady continued.
Later in the radio segment, the show hosts pointed to a New York Daily News column criticizing Brady for being friends with Trump to provide an example of the thing Ditka was ripping.
The column was written by Seth Walder. Here’s what the writer concluded:
If you’re friends with Trump, you’re friends with racism, bigotry and misogyny. Just like if you voted for Trump, you voted for racism, bigotry and misogyny.
There are lots of things I’ll forgive me my friends for. If a pal liked Nickelback, that would be embarrassing for them, but I’d tolerate it. I’m not saying I’d go to a concert, but I’d tolerate it. This is different. If a friend of mine were a racist, we just wouldn’t be friends.
By being friends with Trump and having that friendship be public, Brady is tacitly condoning the president whether he means to or not. It normalizes Trump in a very non-normal situation. And at the very least, Trump has certainly taken advantage of Brady’s friendship as a campaign tool.