During a rally last Friday in Alabama, President Trump decried how soft the NFL is purportedly getting.
“Today, if you hit too hard, if they hit too hard, ’15 yards, throw him out of the game,'” Trump said. “They had that last week, I watched for a couple of minutes. Two guys, just really, beautiful tackle — ‘Boom, 15 yards.’ The referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home she’s so proud of him — they’re ruining the game! Right? They’re ruining the game… they want to hit.”
Trump then segued into his now-infamous tirade against players who kneel during the national anthem.
Trump is complaining there's been too much attention on degenerative brain diseases in the NFL. "They're ruining the game" pic.twitter.com/0MGCs7dNwL
— Brandon Wall (@Walldo) September 23, 2017
Last Friday was far from the first time Trump publicly complained about the alleged softness of the NFL. During an interview on Mike & Mike’s show in September 2014, Trump said that increased unnecessary roughness penalties are “making the NFL really boring.”
“I’ve seen some of the best tackles of the year, let’s say go back even to last year, where the tackle is vicious, violent and incredible entertainment, and instead of being praised, they’re called for a 15-yard penalty and sometimes get thrown out of the game, thrown out of a number of games and in fact, get fined,” Trump said. “And I think it’s making the NFL really boring.”
There are just so many penalties and such long commercials in these NFL games that they are no longer worth watching. Soft hitting & boring!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 26, 2014
During that Mike & Mike interview, Trump went on to characterize the greater policing of violence in football as just another way that American society is becoming more politically correct.
“Football is a vicious game and that’s the way it is. And if you’re gonna make it not that, it’s going to be politically correct like everything else in this country,” he said. “They want everything to be politically correct. You can’t use the wrong inflection, you can’t use the wrong words. They’re going to destroy football with all of these flags. They’re going to destroy football by not allowing the great tackles.”
While he was campaigning for president, Trump mocked the NFL concussion protocol during a rally in Wisconsin, saying of a woman who passed out at one of his events: “That woman was out cold, and now she’s coming back. We don’t go by these new, and very much softer, NFL rules. Concussions… ‘oh, oh! Got a little ding on the head. No, no, you can’t play for the rest of the season.’ Our people are tough.”
Considering his bloodlust, Trump went to bed a happy camper last night if he was watching the Green Bay-Chicago game. In the fourth quarter, Green Bay receiver Davante Adams was waylaid by one of the “vicious, violent” hits that Trump has publicly celebrated in the past.
— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) September 29, 2017
The Bears player who laid the hit on Adams, Danny Trevathan, received a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty but was not thrown out of the game. Adams was taken off the field on a gurney and brought to the hospital. Thankfully, he has since been released and is expected to make a full recovery.
While the president might approve of hits of that sort, there’s a good reason the NFL is cracking down as more light is shed on the link between football and degenerative brain diseases. In July, a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association examined the brains of 111 former NFL players, and all but one of them were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
Last Friday — just hours before Trump railed against the softness of the NFL in Alabama — researchers at the CTE Center at Boston University disclosed that former NFL tight end Aaron Hernandez, whose career ended after he was arrested and ultimately convicted of murder, had the most severe case of CTE they’d ever seen.
For Trump, however, concern about players’ short- and long-term health take a back seat to entertainment. His attitude is the sort one takes toward property, not human beings.