Donald Trump is serious about becoming an NFL owner. Now, will the NFL be serious about him?
“I’m going to give it a heavy shot,” Trump told the Buffalo News on Monday in a telephone interview. “I would love to do it, and if I can do it, I’m keeping it in Buffalo.”
Trump is so serious about purchasing the upstate New York team in the wake of the death of long-time owner Ralph Wilson last month that he twice has spoken with Bills president and CEO Russ Brandon.
If he is indeed serious, he’s wading in diplomatically, putting the kibosh on any notion that he might move the team.
“I live in New York, and it’s easier for me to go to Buffalo than any other place,” Trump said. “Where am I going to move it, some place on the other side of the country where I have to travel for five hours?”
Now, all he has to do is convince the other NFL owners that he’d be good for the league.
Although Trump has the money and conservative bent most owners share, his involvement in gambling might be an issue. The NFL prohibits any employee having gambling ties and Trump owns casinos. “It’s a public company, and I could sell instantaneously,” Trump said. “So that wouldn’t be a conflict at all.”
A larger one, though, could be the role he played in the long, long defunct USFL. A number of teams may have changed owners since the 1980s, but this is a bunch that doesn’t forget a slight. In the News interview, Trump tried to change the conversation on his involvement with the league, which hoped to challenge the NFL’s superiority. He was a driving force in the league switching from spring football into directly competing with the NFL in the fall.
“I think the NFL owners respected me for it because I took a dead league and made it hot,” Trump said. “But my thing when I bought the team was, ‘I will not play football in the spring.’ Even if they would have teetered along for another couple years, it wouldn’t have survived in the spring. And if I hadn’t gotten involved, they wouldn’t have lasted another season.
“The NFL owners that I know and are very honest about it, they’ll tell you I did a good job and they have respect for me. And I have respect for them.”
He wanted to go up against the NFL “with respect,” he says. And then there’s the matter of a little lawsuit the USFL brought against the big guys. The USFL won and was awarded $1 (with the verdict tripled) because it successfully proved that the NFL had violated antitrust laws. It was unable to show that it had suffered financially — a most un-Trump-like outcome.