Justin Rohrwasser

Report: Patriots kicker Justin Rohrwasser removed controversial tattoo

Report: Patriots kicker Justin Rohrwasser removed controversial tattoo

"I knew I had to have it totally taken off of my body."

In April, that's what Patriots rookie kicker Justin Rohrwasser told WBZ's Steve Burton about a controversial Three Percenters tattoo on his left arm that gained instant notoriety after he was drafted by New England.

Well, it appears he has followed through on that promise.

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According to TMZ Sports, the 23-year-old has had the tattoo removed. The report states that Rohrwasser started the painful removal process right after the NFL Draft.

After the Patriots selected the Marshall kicker in the fifth round of the draft, there was a public outcry about the tattoo displaying the logo of the right-wing militia group, which has been described as racist and anti-government. Rohrwasser had said he got the tattoo when he was 18 as a way to support the military, but didn't realize its other use.

"It's shameful that I had it on there ignorantly," Rohrwasser told Burton. "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."

Though he might still face questions about the tattoo when the Patriots open training camp later this month, removing the tattoo should keep the issue from being a huge distraction during his first NFL season.

Stephen Gostkowski hoping 'to find the right place' to compete this offseason

Stephen Gostkowski hoping 'to find the right place' to compete this offseason

The New England Patriots lost a couple of key veterans this offseason. Obviously, Tom Brady was one of them. The 20-year Patriot defected in free agency to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in hopes that he can prove he's a winner outside of New England.

But another understated loss was that of Stephen Gostkowski. The long-time Patriots kicker was released during the offseason and the 36-year-old will be looking to latch onto a new team at some point in the not-so-distant future.

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Gostkowski is currently rehabbing from left hip surgery that sidelined him for 12 games last season, but he's hoping that he'll have a chance to get involved in a kicker battle once training camp rolls around.

"No one is practicing right now, so it's not like I'm missing competing with someone in OTAs. If things work out like I think they will, I'll have an opportunity around training camp, whenever the NFL decides that will be," Gostkowski said per ESPN's Mike Reiss. "I want to try to find a place where I can have a chance to compete. With the kicker position, there's usually two, three, four spots that are up in the air, but you just have to find the right place."

It stands to reason that Gostkowski will eventually find work. He's among the most proven veteran kickers on the market so if a team has issues at the position, Gostkowski could get the call. He went 7 of 8 on field goals last year and has made 87.4 percent of his career field goals. If he's healthy, he should still be a fine kicker to keep around.

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Of course, Gostkowski finding that place may be a bit more difficult with team facilities currently shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic. But as he mentioned, he may have a chance to pick his destination once camps are up and running again. And that will afford him a chance to land in the right place.

The Patriots won't be needing Gostkowski's services anymore. They spent a fifth-round pick on Marshall kicker Justin Rohrwasser in hopes that he can be the next in a 25-year span of great Patriots kicking between Gostkowski and Adam Vinatieri.

Rohrwasser went 18 of 21 during his final season at Marshall and had one of the best performances of his career in a rivalry game against Western Kentucky. If he can be as clutch as he was on that occasion, he should work out well as a replacement for the Patriots' all-time leading scorer.

Tattoo controversy wears on new Patriots kicker Justin Rohrwasser

Tattoo controversy wears on new Patriots kicker Justin Rohrwasser

The emotional toll that the controversy over his tattoo has taken on Patriots draft pick Justin Rohrwasser led to the kicker breaking down and crying last weekend, his high school coach told the Boston Globe. 

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“He just broke down crying in the car,” John Barber, Rohrwasser’s coach at Central Catholic in Troy, N.Y., told the Globe's Ben Volin. “My first reaction was, ‘Where are you? I’ll come get you.’ He said, ‘No, I’m fine, I’m driving home.’”

Rohrwasser was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft last Saturday and almost immediately controversy ensued about the tattoo on his left arm of the logo of the Three Percenters, a right-wing paramilitary group that had a connection to the deadly "Unite The Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. 

After initially telling the media on his post-draft conference call Saturday that he got the tattoo as an expression of military support and that he'll cover it up - "Obviously, it evolved into something that I did not want to represent," he said - Rohrwasser the next day said he would completely remove the tattoo.

It didn't stop the controversy. Former ESPN host Jemele Hill, now a writer with The Atlantic, called him out:

His Twitter and Instagram feeds, which included "likes" of President Donald Trump and right-wing-connected figures Ayn Rand and Jordan Peterson, drew scrutiny.  

Rohrwasser began his college career at the University of Rhode Island before transferring to Marshall. Characterizing the kicker as a white supremacist doesn't square with what URI coach Jim Fleming encountered. 

“I thought he was an intelligent, well-spoken, good dude," Fleming told the Globe. "Kids liked him. He wasn’t a normal introverted kicker. He had some personality to him.”

Fleming said Rohrwasser made no secret of his conservative political beliefs and often wore the red "Make America Great Again" hat of Trump supporters. 

"I was not concerned whatsoever about him dividing the team," Fleming said. "So I feel bad for the kid right now. He’ll weather the storm, hopefully.”

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Rohrwasser's teammate at Marshall, long snapper Matt Beardall, said those critical of the Patriots new kicker have jumped to the wrong conclusion. 

“He’s not an extremist like everyone is calling him to be, and it’s really sad that some people who don’t know him are calling him names and making judgments,” Beardall told the Globe. 

It's been only a week, and he hasn't set foot in Foxboro, but the NFL career of the apparent heir to longtime New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski is off to a tempestuous start.