There was no secret that the Patriots needed to upgrade their special teams depth coming into last week’s NFL draft after releasing their four-time Pro Bowl kicker, Stephen Gostkowski. The 36-year-old spent all 14 seasons of his career with New England prior to his release in late March due to hip surgery that caused him to miss 12 games in 2019 as the team struggled to find an adequate replacement.

Gostkowski was originally a fourth round pick in the 2006 draft, a round which most teams would use to target a position player. But head coach Bill Belichick definitely views kicking as an integral part of his team’s success and ultimately decided to pull the trigger on Marshall kicker Justin Rohrwasser in the fifth round on Saturday.

What no one saw coming was the criticism of a tattoo Rohrwasser got when he was 18 years old that resembles the logo of a right-wing militia group known as “The Three Percenters.” Rohrwasser initially told reporters he would have the tattoo covered up, but on Monday he joined Steve Burton for an interview to address the controversy on Boston’s CBS-affiliate, WBZ TV.

Rohrwasser said he was unaware of the tattoo’s meaning and it was only brought up in the public spotlight when he was drafted as his picture circulated across social media. “I went on to Twitter and I saw the tweet,” he told WBZ TV.  “I saw that someone had taken a picture of me and put it with my tattoo and linking me to some horrific events, you know, obviously Charlottesville and these horrible things.”

When asked if it was brought to his attention while attending Marshall, Rohrwasser said, “Never. The first time I found out what it was linked to was on Saturday. That’s why it was so surprising,” he told Burton.

He later added that the tattoo “was described to me as, you know, the percentage of colonists that rose up against the authoritarian government of the British. And I was like, wow, that’s such a you know, an American sentiment, patriotic sentiment and coming from a military family, I thought that really spoke to me. I always was proud to be an American. I’m very proud.”

On Saturday after being drafted, Rohrwasser said he was going to have it covered up, but his opinion shifted after becoming aware of how it’s being interpreted.

“As soon as I saw what it was linked to on Saturday, it was exactly that time I knew I had to get it totally taken off my body. I said cover it up [to reporters], but I want to get it removed from my body. It’s shameful that I had it on there ignorantly,” an emotional Rohrwasser said. “I’m sorry for all my family that have to defend me. Putting them in that compromising position is one of the biggest regrets I’ll ever have, so to them, I’m sorry. I’m going to learn from this. No matter what, it’s not who I am, hopefully you’ll all find that out.”


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