I has become tradition for presidents to be interviewed ahead of the Super Bowl. However Trump refused to be interviewed. But his assault on the NFL didn’t stop there.
It’s no secret that Donald Trump has condemned NFL players who knelt during the playing of the national anthem.
By referring to those players as sons of bitches, Trump not only condemned the players, but went too far, attacking their mothers and using vulgar names to describe them. Trump was specifically referring to Colin Kaepernick who is now (and may forever be) known for a simple, silent gesture. He is the quarterback who knelt for the national anthem before National Football League games last year as a protest against social injustice, especially the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police.
Even people who disagree with kneeling during the anthem didn’t react as violently as the Donald. Trump’s hatred for the NFL seemed disproportionate to the demonstrations of the NFL players’s who have a legitimate problem with the outrageous treatment by police of Blacks.
It is no secret that Trump is a bigot, but Trump’s reaction was to attack the NFL in general, not only the Black players.
A quick investigation into Trump’s background reveals his real motivation. It is Trump’s “obsession for revenge” that is driving his behavior.
In 1984 and 1985, Trump owned the New Jersey Generals, who competed in the short-lived United States Football League. The key concept behind the U.S.F.L. was that it would play football in the spring. Football fans, the league’s creators believed, people wanted to watch football throughout the year.
Although the owners lost money — as you would expect in a new business venture — the league had a surprisingly successful first season. It landed television contracts with ABC and a fledgling sports network called ESPN. Its ratings were decent. Its 12 teams averaged over 25,000 people per game.
Trump described the future of the USFL as “huge” and explained that the league would “stay strong for a long time.”
But Trump was wrong. The owners made two early mistakes. Eager to recoup some of their losses, they decided to expand to 18 teams for their second season, allowing them to pocket franchise fees of $4 million per team from the six new owners. It was too much too soon; from that point on, franchises folded, merged, moved — it bordered on chaos. And second, they let the Generals’ owner, an Oklahoma oilman named J. Walter Duncan, sell the team to Trump. The price was reported to be $9 million. (Trump later claimed it was only $5 million.)
Though he had bought into a spring football league, Trump made it plain from the get-go that he thought spring football was for losers. “If God had wanted football in the spring, he wouldn’t have created baseball,” he said.
Despite having the league’s best running back in Walker, the Generals had a poor first season, going 6-12. Trump set about changing that performance. He signed quarterback Brian Sipe, as other veteran N.F.L. players. His spending spree blew the doors off any hope of salary restraint, forcing other U.S.F.L. teams — and the N.F.L., too — to spend millions to keep up with him.
For Trump, it worked out splendidly: The team was 14-4 in its second season, but lost in the first round of the playoffs. The Generals gave Trump something else: newspaper headlines. He was not yet a household name, though he was clearly on his way. Owning the Generals turbocharged his rise to fame. His views, his deals, his postgame comments — they dominated the news media’s coverage of the U.S.F.L.
At first, many of the owners were glad to have him dominate the media reports of the new league. But many U.S.F.L. observers soon came to believe that he did not necessarily have the best interests of the league at heart. “He was a dynamic figure, but he was dynamic on behalf of the Donald Trump interests, not the whole league,” said Keith Jackson, who broadcast U.S.F.L. games for ABC.
“It was all self-aggrandizement,” said Mike Tollin, who, as the head of a firm that served as the in-house production company for the league, spent a great deal of time in Trump’s company — but who was also close to owners who soured on Trump.
All through that second season, Trump continued to publicly push his fellow owners to move the U.S.F.L. to the fall and go toe-to-toe with the mighty N.F.L. It made no sense. “To go head-to-head with them was insane,” the actor (and Tampa Bay Bandits partner) Burt Reynolds told Tollin, who made an ESPN documentary about the U.S.F.L. in 2009.
Years later, when Tollin interviewed Trump for the film, Trump described the league as “small potatoes.” (That line became the title of the documentary.) As he has all his life, Trump yearned to be in the big arena, and in sports, there was nothing bigger than the N.F.L. Rather than seeing the genuine possibility of building a stand-alone league by steering clear of the N.F.L. — and hitching its wagon to ESPN, which itself was not ready for the N.F.L. — his model was the A.F.L., which had ultimately forced a merger with the older league.
Would a merger mean that the more fragile U.S.F.L. franchises would be tossed aside? Sure. But that wouldn’t happen to the Generals! In the middle of Trump’s lobbying effort, Trump’s main opponent among the owners, the Tampa Bay Bandits’ John Bassett, found out that he had brain cancer. With the respected Bassett suddenly sidelined, Trump persuaded a majority of the owners to throw in their lot with him.
“He manipulated them,” Chuck Pitcock, a former Bandits guard, told Tollin. “There were four or five of the owners that were broke, and they figured if they rode with Donald, they might end up with something.” Before the 1985 season began, the league announced that it would move to the fall in 1986.
“I felt it was the wrong decision,” Taube told me, and he wasn’t the only one. “The declaration to move to the fall,” said Young, who was quarterback of the Los Angeles Express, “I think everyone sensed that that was not going to go well.”
When Tollin interviewed Trump for his documentary, he laid out the criticism he had heard from the many people he had spoken to. Trump, of course, was having none of it. He denigrated his critics, by name, and accepted zero responsibility for the league’s demise.
“I got this league to go as far as it could go,” Trump said. “Without me, this league would have folded a lot sooner.”
After the USFL folded in 1985, Trump unsuccessfully tried to become a NFL team owner.
Trump lost a bidding war to become the Buffalo Bills’ new owner in 2014. He was outbid by Terry Pegula, 66, who reportedly paid $1.4 billion for the team.
Trump decried the NFL and the team on Twitter multiple times after losing the ownership fight.
“The [NFL] games are so boring now that actually, I’m glad I didn’t get the Bills. Boring games, too many flags, too soft!” Trump said on Oct. 13, 2014.
Trump’s denigration of the NFL as President of the United States is perceived by the public to be all about patriotism. In fact, it’s all about his “obsession for revenge.” By criticizing the NFL and causing the NFL teams to lose money and popularity, Trump causes loss of profit and popularity to the very people he blamed for his failure. Trump’s denigration of the NFL is frighteningly similar to the denigration of the Democratic Party. Trump used to be a football team owner, but now can’t say enough hateful things about the NFL. Trump used to be a Democrat, but now can’t do enough to denigrate the party.