Jim Harbaugh Defends Trump Supporter Stephen Ross, Calls Critics ‘Zealots’

Jim Harbaugh
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

For the second time this month, Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh is in hot water with some reporters and fans for supporting Miami Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross, a friend and donor of President Trump’s.

First, he received criticism for congratulating Ross after the billionaire was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall-of-Fame.

“Congrats to a Great Michigan Man! Stephen Ross to be inducted into the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame,” Harbaugh tweeted August 8.

The problem with the timing of his tweet, in the eyes of the left, was that it came right after news leaked that Ross was hosting a Trump fundraiser.

A Washington Post headline to a story by Cindy Boren sums up the criticism Harbaugh took in the press and on social media: “Jim Harbaugh congratulates Stephen Ross on award amid Trump fundraiser furor.”
“His tweet about Ross drew a strong response, with some suggesting it was politicizing Michigan fandom,” Boren wrote.

And now Harbaugh is being criticized again for supporting Ross on his latest podcast, calling the real estate mogul’s critics “zealots.”

“Zealots,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve got zealots on all sides of the aisle these days.”

Harbaugh doesn’t get why he was criticized for congratulating Ross, a big Michigan supporter, who’s donated $378 million to the school.

“I mean, so much Stephen Ross has done for so many across so many platforms,” Harbaugh said. “Now, he’s just getting bashed. I even tweeted out ‘Congratulations’ for being inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame and I was getting backlash over that, over congratulating him for that.”

Perhaps the criticism should not surprise Harbaugh, though, considering he was also ripped for complimenting Trump in April of 2016.

“The thing I like about Donald Trump is he’s not afraid to fight the establishment,” Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh’s guest on his recent podcast was former Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon, who also came to Ross’ defense about the backlash he received for the Trump fundraiser.

“I felt bad for Steve, because he’s as generous and as patriotic a guy as you’d ever want to meet,” Brandon said. “He took a lot of grief over this thing, which is just too bad. Just too bad.”

One reason Ross has taken so much heat over the fundraiser was the criticism he received from one of his own players, Kenny Stills. The wide receiver believes his boss was being hypocritical for running a non-profit (RISE) promoting racial equality and then hosting a Trump fundraiser.

“You can’t have a non-profit with this mission statement then open your doors to Trump,” wrote Stills, who kneels during the Star-Spangled Banner before games to protest racial inequality.

Harbaugh said on his podcast that he’s troubled by the current political climate in the country, and wished the Washington political class would act like “a football team.”

“We’ve got politicians that don’t seem like they can please anybody,” Harbaugh said. “Right now, a house divided can’t stand. There’s zealots on both sides, no matter what. If it could be run like a football team and we all pulled together for each other, for the team, I think that would please everybody.”

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