NFL could use a history lesson on would-be team owner Donald Trump
I’m all for Donald Trump owning another football team, but only if the NFL is looking at developmental-league expansion in, say, Crimea.
Trump says he’s actually interested in taking over Buffalo which, frankly, is not far enough upwind from the stench.
“I’m going to give it a heavy shot,” Trump recently told the Buffalo News of his interest in buying the team.
Trump’s history with team ownership is shakier than his hair in a windstorm. My bigger problem, however, is Trump trying to rewrite history.
Let the record show that Trump, three decades ago, not only killed off the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League but also killed off the entire USFL.
I still take this personally because, as a cub reporter, I covered the USFL’s franchise in Los Angeles. And the end of the USFL in 1985 meant the end of my highly entertaining assignment.
Many fine people lost jobs because of Trump’s audacious, predatory and unnecessary business practices.
One person, still dear to my heart, was sent to the unemployment line -- my future wife.
Trump is soft-brushing history now because he wants to suck up to NFL owners in his quest to sweet-talk his way into the world’s most exclusive country club.
The way I remember it is this: Trump bought the New Jersey Generals in 1984 with the hope he could ruin the USFL and then force a merger with the NFL. Trump was really only interested in one team getting absorbed -- his.
The USFL was a modestly budgeted spring league with a puncher’s chance at survival until Trump arrived and drove player salaries through the roof while encouraging the USFL to make the suicidal move of taking on the NFL in the fall.
When USFL franchises started to hemorrhage under the financial strain caused by Trump, he helped convince USFL owners their only chance was to sue the NFL.
“I didn’t bring the lawsuit,” Trump recently told the Buffalo News. “The lawsuit was brought by the league.”
Yeah, right. And that logjam on the George Washington Bridge was due to a “traffic study.”
Trump then had the gall to say the USFL “won” its antitrust lawsuit against the NFL.
Yeah, right, II. The USFL sued for $1.69 billion and was awarded $1, tripled to $3 under antitrust laws.
Not even Charlie Sheen would call that “winning.”
The USFL folded, thousands of lives were disrupted and -- here’s the real kicker -- the NFL didn’t absorb Trump’s team.
The story of Trump’s role in the USFL might best be retold by an inebriated Justin Bieber on an episode of Comedy Central’s “Drunk History.”
The Trump-supported litigation back then portrayed the NFL in the worst, monopolistic light possible.
And now, Trump wants everyone to forget that, no hard feelings, and hand him over the Buffalo Bills.
The NFL would be fools to let Trump in, but the world is full of fools, poor and rich. Ownership has turned over significantly in 30 years and the NFL might award a franchise to a despot so long as his billion-dollar check clears.
Maybe Trump and the NFL deserve each other.
Smart people should know, though, that Trump has already killed one league and once, long ago, tried to inflict serious harm on the NFL.
Thank goodness for the NFL that the USFL “won” its case.
Trump can spin history any way he wants. He can massage it and sugarcoat it -- even turn a blind eye to it.
But he can’t rewrite it because there are still too many eyewitnesses.
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