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New Patriots kicker says he’ll cover tattoo related to right-wing militia group

“I should have done way more research before I put any mark or symbol like that on my body,” Justin Rohrwasser said. (Sholten Singer/Herald-Dispatch/AP)

A kicker drafted in the fifth round by the New England Patriots said he will cover an arm tattoo that is related to a right-wing militia.

Shortly after being selected Saturday, Justin Rohrwasser spoke to reporters about the tattoo, which is on his left forearm and shows the symbol of the Three Percenters. The stated goal of the group, which denies being a militia, is to be “the last defense to protect the citizens of the United States if there ever comes a day when our government takes up arms against the American people.”

The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center classify the Three Percenters as an anti-government extremist group. Members of the militia made their presence felt at the 2017 “Unite the Right” demonstrations in Charlottesville, but Three Percenters leaders subsequently issued a statement disavowing any alignment with white supremacist and Nazi groups.

Telling the media that he got his tattoo while a teenager, Rohrwasser noted that he has military members in his family and claimed he thought the symbol was meant to reflect support for the military. The symbol shows the number three in Roman numerals enclosed in a circle of stars.

“Obviously it evolved into something that I do not want to represent,” the Marshall University product said (via CBS Boston). “And when I look back on it, I should have done way more research before I put any mark or symbol like that on my body. It’s not something that I ever want to represent. It will be covered.”

It is unclear if Rohrwasser intends to cover the symbol with another tattoo or simply with a sleeve or other piece of apparel. A spokesman for the Patriots did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Rohrwasser has several other tattoos, including ones that read “Liberty or death” and “Don’t tread on me.” He told the website for Marshall athletics last year that his tattoos, which also include an anchor, the all-seeing-eye symbol and one honoring the Dave Matthews Band, were “all random.”

A native of Clifton Park, N.Y., the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Rohrwasser first played in college at Rhode Island before spending his final two seasons at Marshall, where he earned the 2019 Conference USA special teams player of the year award. He recalled Saturday that while at URI as the Patriots won Super Bowl LI with a huge comeback against the Atlanta Falcons, the “whole campus was on fire.”

In New England, Rohrwasser is set to replace Stephen Gostkowski, who earned four Pro Bowl nods while kicking for the Patriots from 2006 to 2019. Gostkowski was preceded by Adam Vinatieri, who became a postseason legend for his clutch kicks with New England from 1996 to 2005 before moving on to a lengthy stint with the Indianapolis Colts.

Saying he was “aware of the fantastic lineage of special teamers in New England,” Rohrwasser added, “I think [the Patriots are] getting a hard worker and somebody who is going to chase after the best version of himself and a good teammate."

Rohrwasser said the Patriots had him take “a psychological test” as part of their pre-draft process.

“They put a lot of attention to who the player is as a person,” he said, “to figure out what kind of guy they’re getting.”

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