"I want to get it removed from my body. It's shameful that I had it on there ignorantly."
That's Patriots rookie Justin Rohrwasser fighting back tears and apologizing for the "3 Percenter" tattoo on his arm ... saying he'll now have it removed because "that's not who I am."
You've probably heard by now ... the 23-year-old has been under fire over the tattoo since he was drafted by the Pats in the 5th round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Why? Well, Justin claims he got the tat when he was 18 as a tribute to the military -- but some experts and watchdog groups say the "3 Percenters" are actually a dangerous right-wing militia ... some chapters reportedly associate with "extreme racist groups."
3 Percenters' leaders have disputed the claims -- claiming they're just patriots trying to protect American liberties.
Still, Rohrwasser has been getting crushed on social media by people calling him racist, a white supremacist sympathizer and more.
So, the former Marshall kicker did an interview with WBZ-TV's Steve Burton (who is black) to explain why he's JUST NOW having regrets about the ink.
"When I was 18, I got it. [3 Percenters were] described to me as the percentage of colonists that rose up against the authoritarian government of the British, and I was like, 'Wow, that's such an American sentiment. A patriotic sentiment. And coming from a military family, I thought that really spoke to me and I always was proud to be an American. I'm very proud to be an American."
"The first time I found out what it was linked to was on Saturday. That's why it was so surprising."
Shocking statement considering the 3 Percenters made national headlines back in 2017 when several 3P members showed up at the violent Charlottesville protests in military fatigues while carrying weapons.
"As soon as I saw what it was linked to on Saturday, it's exactly that time I knew I had to get it totally taken off my body. 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 family that have to defend me.
Rohrwasser says putting his family and friends in the "compromising position" of having to defend his character is "one of the biggest regrets I'll ever have."
"I'm sorry I'm going to learn from this ... this is not who I am ... no matter what, that 's not who I am. Hopefully, you will all find that out."
For his part, Burton believes him ... tagging his report, "I did not find him to be a racist whatsoever. I found him to be very authentic and very apologetic. This kid deserves a chance."