Last April, then-Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan enthusiastically and glowingly introduced then-candidate President Trump at a campaign rally in Buffalo.
“There’s so many things I admire about Mr. Trump, but one thing I really admire about him is, you know what, he’ll say what’s on his mind,” Ryan said at the time. “But so many times, you’ll see people, a lot of people want to say the same thing. But there’s a big difference. They don’t have the courage to say it. They all think it, but they don’t have the courage to say it. “And Donald Trump certainly has the courage to say it, and that’s why I respect him.”
But after Trump attacked NFL players on Friday night for protesting racial injustices during the national anthem, calling them “sons of bitches” and saying they should be fired for exercising their first-amendment right, Ryan has changed his tone.
On Sunday morning, Ryan, who is now an analyst at ESPN, said he was “pissed off” at Trump, and that he “never signed up” for being associated with everything that Trump stands for:
When you look at it, we all grew up in an NFL locker room. We don’t have those issues, you know what I mean?
Everyone’s always been united. Yeah, the views are different but lemme tell you: I’m pissed off. I’ll be honest with you. Because I supported Donald Trump. When he asked me to introduce him at a rally in Buffalo, I did that. But I’m reading these comments and it’s appalling to me and I’m sure it’s appalling to almost any citizen in our country. It should be.
You know, calling our players SOBs and all that kind of stuff, that’s not the men that I know. The men that I know in the locker room I’m proud of. I’m proud to be associated with those people. I apologized for being pissed off but guess what? That’s it, because right away I’m associated with what Donald Trump stands for and all that because I introduced him. I never signed up for that, I never wanted that. That doesn’t mean I support 100 percent of the things he says.
In addition to Ryan, four NFL owners who donated $1 million to Trump’s campaign have spoken out against Trump’s “divisive” comments, though some more forcefully than others.
Most notably, Trump’s close friend Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, condemned the comments. Kraft recently made headlines for giving Trump a Super Bowl ring.
Of course, one has to wonder where Kraft and Ryan and other Trump supporters in the league have been. Trump is who he always was. In addition to his frequent insults of minorities, immigrants, women, LGBTQ individuals, and the disabled, Trump spent time on the campaign trail directly insulting the NFL and Colin Kaepernick.
“Football has become soft like our country has become soft,” Trump said last January, four months before Ryan publicly introduced him at the Buffalo rally. During the campaign, he also said that Kaepernick should find another country.
Trump’s true colors have never been concealed; those who helped him get elected don’t get to feign ignorance now.