The New England Patriots selected kicker Justin Rohrwasser in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft on Saturday.
He will have a chance to replace Super Bowl hero Stephen Gostkowski, but the conversation surrounding Rohrwasser quickly shifted from football to a controversial tattoo on his left arm.
An image of Rohrwasser in a tweet revealed a 3-Percenter tattoo and the comprehension of the insignia quickly sparked a ton of questions for the 6’3″ 200-pound kicker who won Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Year in 2019.
As you can see in the tweet from Ethan Hammerman of Pats Pulpit, and USA Today’s Henry McKenna, Rohrwasser is claiming he was unaware of what the group stood for. He also explained that he was under the impression that it was a symbol that showed support for the U.S. Military.
He does recognize that it has “evolved” into something viewed negatively.
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Brief History on the 3-Percenters & Its Co-Founder
The emblem with the Roman numeral three surrounded by the ring of stars and a take on the American flag is where the controversy lies. For those who are unaware, the 3-Percenters are viewed as a right-wing militia group who are strong advocates for pro-gun laws.
The group was co-founded by the deceased Michael Brian Vanderboegh, who gained prominence during the 1990s Patriot movement.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Vanderboegh notoriously emailed Connecticut State Police employees a warning of “bloody scenarios” if they attempted to enforce gun-control law, and also published the home addresses and phone numbers of senators who voted for the laws.
Twitter Reaction to Rohrwasser’s Response
As you might expect, there were some interesting reactions to Rohrwasser, his tattoos, and the Patriots organization making the decision to draft him.
Many people are having a hard time accepting Rohrwasser’s professed ignorance to the 3-Percenter’s cause, or believing that he was completely unaware of what the tattoo meant when he got it. It’s so specific, and as many of the members of the Twitterverse point out, his other tattoos would seemingly fall in line with a similar concept.
That said, without proof, we must give Rohrwasser the benefit of the doubt, but it’s hard to blame anyone who raises an eyebrow at him or the Patriots organization for selecting him in the draft.
Bill Belichick & Robert Kraft Still Have Questions to Answer
This isn’t over.
While the questions pointed at Rohrwasser might have been sparse on Saturday due to the current state of the world and the inability or unwillingness of the media to pepper him with more inquiries, but more spotlight will be aimed at this issue.
Head coach/general manager Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft likely need to explain why they either didn’t properly vet Rohrwasser or if they did, why they felt the kicker’s tattoo wasn’t a cause for concern.
In any case, Rohrwasser may want to try to get himself booked as a guest on an upcoming episode of Tattoo Nightmares because he is almost certainly going to need to have this ink disguised–if he wants to remove the stigma that comes with it.
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