President Trump lashed out at the NFL at a rally in Fargo, North Dakota, on Wednesday night. Saying that much of the public is watching him and his administration, instead of football.
The president called himself “more exciting” and “a hell of a lot more dangerous,” than the NFL.
“When the NFL is down 20 percent – it’s the flag, but it’s also the fact that everyone is watching us on the different cable networks,” Trump said. “They find this more exciting than the NFL but a hell of a lot more dangerous.”
In May, the NFL changed their anthem policy to require players in the playing area, to stand for the national anthem. Those who decide they don’t want to stand, would be allowed to remain in the locker room.
Several NFL owners admitted that President Trump played a major factor in convincing the league that the time had come to change the anthem policy.
When Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer asked Packers President Mark Murphy if the subject of Trump came up, Murphy was direct.
“Oh yeah,” Murphy said. “It was more how [Trump] might react, anticipating that. Also, how the fans will react, how the media will react. That’s what we tried to think through. … No matter what we did, [Trump] would probably try to get involved one way or the other—either criticizing us or taking credit for the change.”
However, if NFL owners thought that changing the rule would result in Trump no longer targeting the league in political speeches, they thought wrong.
The blunt truth of the matter for the NFL, is that the math is currently against them.
Riding high after a string of judicial and political victories, President Trump has seen his approval numbers rise. Meanwhile, the NFL has seen their popularity tank, even in states where football is wildly popular.
Like President Trump reportedly told Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones prior to the league meetings in May, the anthem issue is a very “strong, winning issue” for him. One shouldn’t expect the president to stop beating that drum, especially while it’s playing his tune.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn