For more than a year, Donald Trump attacked some National Football League players — and the league itself — relentlessly. Trump’s criticism focused on the refusal of some NFL players to kneel during the national anthem. The players who took part claimed the kneeling to be a form of protest against police mistreatment of black Americans. In September of 2017, Trump even referred to a kneeling player as a “son of a b***h,” as NBC Sports reported.
On his Twitter account, Trump posted 39 times about the national anthem and the NFL, demanding in one Twitter message made in August of last year that NFL players who kneel during the anthem be “suspended without pay.”
But then, in September, Trump suddenly stopped. His last Twitter post on the topic — in which he chided the NFL over falling TV ratings — appeared on September 9 of 2018. Since then, Trump has not mentioned the NFL controversy.
In fact, during a rally in October, Trump praised the NFL as “a great American company,” according to the New York Post. So what happened?
According to a Friday report by the Los Angeles Times, Trump ceased attacking the NFL after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell flattered him, praising Trump in public over a trade issue that will allow the NFL to air domestic Canadian advertisements on the Canadian broadcast of the Super Bowl. This change is worth millions to the league in additional ad revenue.
According to the Los Angeles Times account, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft — a longtime friend of Trump, who as recently as Friday praised Trump as “working very hard to serve the best interests of the country,” as quoted by the Boston Globe — reached out to Trump. Kraft asked that Trump include the Super Bowl advertising issue in trade negotiations with Canada.
Trump — as a Yahoo! News report documented — has dreamed of owning an NFL team for nearly four decades, only to be repeatedly rebuffed by the league. The president immediately moved the Super Bowl issue to the top of his priority list in the Canadian negotiations, even instructing American negotiators to tell their counterparts “There’s no deal without it,” according to the Los Angeles Times report.
Trump then boasted about his favor for the NFL, claiming, “It took me two minutes and now the NFL is so happy it’s all worked out,” according to Global News.
Goodell then praised Trump for his “leadership and determination,” per the Los Angeles Times.
“The flattery seems to have worked,” article concludes.
According to Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale — who fact-checks all of Trump’s public statements on his Twitter account — “The biggest factor, was flattery…. Goodell apparently called Trump to thank him for getting this ad issue with Canada resolved. Trump has repeatedly expressed delight that Goodell gave him such credit.”