The New England Patriots selected kicker Justin Rohrwasser in the fifth-round of the NFL draft this past weekend. In doing so they brought in a gifted kicker to replace their longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Rohrwasser brought something else to the team, something that will likely drive coach Bill Belichik crazy—an off-the-field controversy surrounding one of the player's tattoos.
From the second that the selection was announced, NFL Twitter blew up with people bringing up the ink on Rohrwasser's right arm. The tattoo, seen below, is a symbol often associated with the right-wing paramilitary group the Three Percenters.
The group—which takes its name from the belief that only 3% of the population fought against the British in the American Revolution—has long been classified as an anti-government group by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center. They are known to fiercely defend 2nd Amendment rights and to advocate against interference from the federal government.
In his introductory press conference, done via teleconference, Rohrwasser explained why he got the tattoo, as well as his plans to cover-up the tattoo in the near future.
“I got that tattoo when I was a teenager and I have a lot of family in the military,” Rohrwasser said, via a transcript provided by the Patriots. “I thought it stood for a military support symbol at the time. Obviously, it’s evolved into something that I do not want to represent. 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, and it’s not something I ever want to represent. It will be covered.”
One has to wonder if this is an example of Rohrwasser merely bowing to public pressure or if he really does disagree with the sentiment behind the design. It could have been a simple case of teenage misunderstanding, but it is a very specific symbol and some of his other tattoos track with the ideology associated with the group.
We look forward to seeing how Rohrwasser ends up covering the tattoo.