Donald Trump’s NFL war follows a history of rejection
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b***h off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”
His words sparked hundreds of players and officials to link arms, take a knee and some to remain in the locker room during the national anthem.
As the games unfolded, Trump again lashed the league in a tirade on Twitter.
The bad news for Trump is that despite his position as the most powerful man in the free world, his words seem to have united athletes, owners and officials against him.
After his tirade, the number of players who protested in the NFL skyrocketed from single figures into the hundreds and even spilt over into the MLB. NBA players from Lebron James to Ben Simmons also spoke out.
As players around the United States continue to come together against the opinions of their president, plenty of questions are being raised about the commander-in-chiefs use of Twitter. Could his thumb war all stem from a simple rejection?
His desire to join the NFL began in the early 1980s with the now defunct United States Football League, a competition that originally ran during the NFL’s off-season.
After initially deciding against joining the venture, Trump brought in when J. Walter Duncan put up the New Jersey Generals for sale and sold them for $10 million.
But the goalposts never shifted for Trump. He wanted to be a part of the NFL owners fraternity and saw the USFL as his way in.
Jeff Pearlman, author of upcoming USFL book The Useless, revealed how Trump put his cards on the table in his first owners meeting with the USFL. “I didn’t enter this league to stay in the spring,” Trump said. “We’re moving to fall.”
A change in seasons would have put the USFL in direct competition with the NFL — and drew the ire of one owner in particular.
John Bassett was the owner of the Tampa Bay Bandits and having had experience with owning sports teams, knew it would be the wrong choice to move in on the NFL’s territory. His patience with Trump eventually wore thin, leading to this scathing letter.
Despite the USFL winning the lawsuit and the NFL being found guilty of violating an antitrust law, the damages awarded to the USFL were a miserly $3 and with that, the USFL — and Trump’s Generals — collapsed under a mountain of debt.
FAILED ATTEMPT AFTER FAILED ATTEMPT
Trump’s interest in securing a piece of the NFL pie didn’t die there — but continued to go unfulfilled.
He failed in an attempt to buy the Indianapolis Colts in 1981 and passed on the Dallas Cowboys in 1984 — a critical mistake.
But Trump still had other opportunities. In 1988, the New England Patriots went on sale after the Sullivan family couldn’t maintain payments for the team. Trump was given the first chance to bid on the team.
Ultimately deciding that the inherited debt was too great of a risk, he passed. Today the Patriots are valued at $2.6 billion, making them the second most valuable team in pro football.
Sixteen years later Trump was back at the bidders desk when he chased the Buffalo Bills in 2014. His low-ball offer of $900 million was surpassed by Terry and Kim Pegula who bid $1.4 billion, a then NFL record.
Given all that history, is it any surprise Trump is happily targeting the NFL, its owners and its players now he’s president?
Is Trump acting out because he simply can’t have the one thing he wants, to be an NFL owner?
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