When Donald Trump looks at America, he sees a country that has gone soft, but that’s not all. He also sees pro football, a sport that is now the national pastime, going soft, too.
In a rally attended by about 2,000 people Sunday in Reno, Nev., he hit that theme and others and placed a lot of blame on the game’s referees, saying they just throw to flags to impress their wives, who are watching at home. While he admitted that he still loves New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the game now is just unwatchable for him.
After talking about Iraq, he segued onto the topic of the NFL, with playoff games on his mind.
“It’s a Sunday, who the hell wants to watch these crummy games? I just want to watch the end. By the way — okay, let me go there for a second. Let me end that story. So we gave them Iraq, we’re stupid. We’re stupid. I’ll change things. Believe me, I’ll change things. And again, we’re going to be so respected. I don’t want to use the word ‘feared.’ What I just said about a game — 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 any more.”
He wasn’t finished.
“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.”