12:53 AM ET
Mike ReissESPN Staff Writer
- Covered Patriots since 1997
- Joined ESPN in 2009
New England Patriots rookie kicker Justin Rohrwasser told WBZ-TV in Boston on Monday that he will remove a tattoo on his arm associated with “The Three Percenters” — a right-wing militia group — because it doesn’t represent who he is.
Rohrwasser, 23, said he was 18 when he got the tattoo.
“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 [to reporters], but I want to get it removed from my body. It’s shameful that I had it on there ignorantly.”
Rohrwasser, who was selected in the NFL draft‘s fifth round Saturday (No. 159 overall), told Patriots reporters that day that he thought the tattoo stood for supporting the military and said he “should have done way more research before I put any mark or symbol like that on my body.”
In the television interview Monday, he added, “It was described to me as the percentage of colonists that rose up against the government of the British. 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.”
On its website, the Three Percenters group says it isn’t an anti-government militia, but “we will defend ourselves when necessary.”
Rohrwasser, who is from Clifton Park, New York, began his college career at the University of Rhode Island (2015-16) before transferring to Marshall University. He was named Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Year in 2019 after converting 18 of 21 field goals, with a long of 53 yards, while going 35-of-36 on extra points.
Asked by WBZ-TV lead sports reporter Steve Burton on Monday if the tattoo was an issue at Marshall, Rohrwasser said, “No, never. The first time I found out what it was linked to was on Saturday. That’s why it was so surprising. …
“We were celebrating and hugging [on Saturday]. So happy. I went on to Twitter. 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 appeared to become emotional in the interview.
“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,” he said. “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.”
The Patriots had Rohrwasser as their top-rated kicker and made him the first player at the position selected in this year’s draft. The team has a vacancy after releasing its all-time leading scorer, Stephen Gostkowski, in March.