Throughout the 2016 campaign and well into his administration, Donald Trump has made a point of calling the modern NFL cowardly and unwatchable for its slightly increased emphasis on concussion prevention. A sampling:
You used to see these tackles, and it was incredible to watch. Now they [effeminate voice] tackle.. head on head collision... fifteen yard penalty. The whole game is all screwed up!
The referees, they want to throw flags so their wives see them at home.
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.
This macho revanchism was a clear contrast to his predecessor, who famously said in 2014 that “I would not let my son play pro football.” Barack Obama was speaking in the conditional because he only has daughters, though that didn’t stop chuds from saying that football would have made Obama’s brain harder. In a pre-taped interview before today’s Super Bowl, Trump took a similar position when asked about the possibility of his 12-year-old son Barron playing football, calling it a “very tough question” and football “a dangerous sport.” From the transcript:
MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you let your son Barron play football?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It’s very, it’s very tough question. It’s a very good question. If he wanted to? Yes. Would I steer him that way? No, I wouldn’t.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I wouldn’t. And he actually plays a lot of soccer. He’s liking soccer. And a lot of people, including me, thought soccer would probably never make it in this country, but it really is moving forward rapidly. I- I just don’t like the reports that I see coming out having to do with football—I mean, it’s a dangerous sport and I think it’s- I- it’s- really tough, I thought the equipment would get better, and it has. The helmets have gotten far better but it hasn’t solved the problem. So, you know I- I hate to say it because I love to watch football. I think the NFL is a great product, but I really think that as far as my son- well I’ve heard NFL players saying they wouldn’t let their sons play football. So. It’s not totally unique, but I- I would have a hard time with it.