Shortly after the Patriots drafted kicker Justin Rohrwasser in the fifth round of this year’s NFL Draft, people discovered a troubling tattoo on his arm.
The tattoo circled in white in the image above represents “The Three Percenters” — a right-wing militia group which advocates for individual gun rights and is opposed to federal government involvement in local affairs. Rohrwasser’s tattoo drew plenty of criticism online, including from The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill, who tweeted, “Patriots kicker is a white supremacist. My bad, he tends to like white supremacist things.”
In his post-draft interview with reporters, Rohrwasser briefly discussed his tattoo, claiming he got it five years under his belief it represented a military symbol. He said “it will be covered.” But many wanted him to talk in detail about the tattoo considering what it represents, and Rohrwasser did that in an interview with CBS Boston.
“We were celebrating and hugging [after being drafted]. So happy. I went on to Twitter and I saw the tweet. And I saw that someone had taken a picture of me and put it with my tattoo and linking me to some horrific events — obviously Charlottesville and these horrible things.”
Rohrwasser said at no point during his time at Marshall did he realize what the tattoo was linked to. He said he only found out Saturday after he became a talking point on Twitter. He says he got the tattoo when he was 18 years old (he’s currently 23).
And despite a previous interview where he said all of his tattoos are “random,” he explained that this one did have meaning when he got it.
“It was described to me as the percentage of colonists that rose up against the government of the British,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wow, that is such an American sentiment, a patriotic sentiment.’ Coming from a military family, I thought that really spoke to me. I always was proud to be an American. I’m very proud to be an American.”
The Patriots rookie also added that he won’t just be covering up the tattoo, he’ll be removing it completely.
“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,” he said. “I said cover it up, but I want to get it removed from my body. It’s shameful that I had it on there ignorantly.
“I’m sorry for all my friends and family that have to defend me. Putting them in that compromising position is one of the biggest regrets I’ll ever have. To them, I’m sorry. I’m going to learn from this. I’m going to take ownership of it. This is not who I am. No matter what, that’s not who I am. Hopefully, you will all find that out.”