Is President Trump Pursuing A Personal Vendetta Against The NFL?

Is President Trump Pursuing A Personal Vendetta Against The NFL?
While many people, like Brian Klaas of The Washington Post, see the President’s war on the NFL as a “calculated, cynical strategy to divert attention from his administration’s failures and scandals”, there is another equally disturbing possibility.

According to ESPN analyst Adam Shefter, several people around the NFL have expressed a believe that President Trump’s vocal attack on the league may be about more than just anthem protests. Owners are worried he may be exacting revenge for perceived wrongdoings in the past…

There are two different events that may has irreparably damaged Trump’s relationship with the NFL. The first incident takes place in the 1980’s, when the President was a key figure the U.S. Football League (USFL). As owner of the New Jersey Generals, the president pushed for the USFL to push their third season schedule into the fall, in an attempt to directly compete with the NFL. The league agreed to this proposal, and it completely destroyed them.

After the switch, they found they were having a hard time securing a new contract to broadcast their games. So, in 1986, Donald Trump filed an anti-trust case against the NFL, claiming they league was violating anti-monopoly laws. The USFL technically won it’s case, and a jury ruled the NFL had “willfully acquired and maintained monopoly status in professional football through predatory tactics”, but it was a purely symbolic victory. The jury felt that many of the USFL’s problems were due to mismanagement, not the NFL’s monopoly. In the end, the USFL was compensated one U.S. dollar in damages. They folded shortly afterwards, claiming losses of $163 million.

The second incident was in 2014, when the President attempted to buy the Buffalo Bills, but was outbid by Terrence Pegula, who already owned the Buffalo Sabres.
As a result of those two interactions, there’s a perception that President Trump may now be exercising a personal vendetta against the league. That belief was recently summed up by Shad Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, during an interview with USA Today. Khan told reporter Jarrett Bell:

“This is a very personal issue with him… He’s been elected President, where maybe a great goal he had in life to own an NFL team is not very likely, so to make it tougher, or to hurt the league, it’s very calculated…

Let’s get real. the attacks on Muslims, the attacks on minorities, the attacks on Jews. I think the NFL doesn’t even come close to that on the level of being offensive. Here, it’s about money, or messing with trying to soil a league or a brand that he’s jealous of.”

If this is part of the President’s personal grudge, he’s certainly managed to get other people on his side. According to a poll from the Cato Institute, by the end of September, 65% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats were in favor of firing NFL players who kneels during the national anthem.

A week ago, President Trump’s former deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka went on “Hannity” to complain about the NFL.
A few week before that, Rush Limbaugh went on the air and eulogized his past love:

“I did not watch the National Football League on Sunday, and it was the first time in 45 years that I made an active decision not to watch, including my team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was not a decision made in anger. It was genuine sadness…The mystique is gone. That actually started vanishing a while ago. The larger-than-life aspect of it is gone. The belief, the wish, the desire that the people in the game were the best and brightest and special, and that’s why they were there, that’s gone. And it’s been politicized. It has been politicized and corrupted, and it didn’t start this weekend. It started years ago.”

Clearly, Trump is not alone. Speaking of disrespect for our country, here are two more examples of the President of the United States using the bully pulpit to harass a sports league: