Like a lot of people, Donald Trump thinks there’s a concussion problem in the NFL.
But the Republican presidential nominee might have a different view of the situation than most folks. Trump said Wednesday he thinks the NFL has gotten too soft when it comes to dealing with concussions — or as he called them, “a little ding on the head.”
During an outdoor speech in Lakeland, Fla., the billionaire candidate was singing the praises of a woman in the crowd, who had returned to the rally after fainting and receiving medical attention, and in the process, he decided to criticize America’s most popular professional sports league.
“That woman was out cold, and now she’s coming back. See, we don’t go by these new and very-much softer NFL rules,” said Trump, a one-time owner of the defunct USFL’s New Jersey Generals who also attempted to purchase the Buffalo Bills in 2014.
“Concussion, 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!”
The NFL settled a lawsuit over head injuries to former players for $1 billion in 2015. In April, a league executive acknowledged for the first time a link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Trump has gone after the NFL for being too soft before. Check out this rant from a rally in Reno in January:
“So I’m watching a game yesterday. What used to be considered a great tackle, a violent head-on [tackle], a violent — if that was done by Dick Butkus, they’d say he’s the greatest player. If that were done by Lawrence Taylor — it was done by Lawrence Taylor and Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke, right? Ray Nitschke — you used to see these tackles, and it was incredible to watch, right?
“Now they tackle. ‘Oh, head-on-head collision, 15 yards.’ The whole game is all screwed up. You say, ‘Wow, what a tackle.’ Bing. Flag. Football has become soft. Football has become soft. Now, I’ll be criticized for that. They’ll say, ‘Oh, isn’t that terrible.’ But football has become soft like our country has become soft. [Applause] It’s true. It’s true. The outcome of games has been changed by what used to be phenomenal, phenomenal stuff.
“Now these are rough guys; these are rough guys. These guys — what they’re doing is incredible, but I looked at it and I watched yesterday in particular. So many flags, right? So many flags. And I could imagine a guy like Lawrence Taylor and Dick Butkus, who was really rough, and some of these guys sitting there watching. ‘Wow, what a beautiful tackle.’ ‘Fifteen yards! That’s — the game is over.’ You can’t kick a field goal anymore.”
He continued: “It’s become weak, and you know what? It’s going to affect the NFL. I don’t even watch it as much anymore. It’s going to affect the NFL. I don’t watch it. The referees, they want to all throw flags so their wives see them at home. ‘Oh, there’s my husband.’ [Laughter] It’s true. ‘He just broke up — he just gave a 15-yard penalty on one of the most beautiful tackles made this year.’ Right?
“It’s boring — although I love Tom Brady. I gotta tell you. I do love Tom. He’s a great guy. But it’s different. But it’s become soft, and our country has become soft.”