The Politics of Football: How Trumpian is Your NFL Team?
Donald Trump, moreso than any other American president, has been uniquely intertwined in our sports culture for over three decades. Dating back to his failed early-80s venture into USFL ownership, Trump has amassed a long list of friends and enemies in nearly every corner of sports, and yet it’s within the NFL, that he has forged some of his most unique, interesting and at times bizarre relationships. Whether it’s expressing admiration for people like Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Johnny Manziel, AJ McCarron (you may be sensing a pattern here) or Bill Belichick, or taking to Twitter to question the playcalling of any number of teams, Trump’s history with the NFL is long, messy, and filled with drama.
Here at TFG, we boldly decided to examine the president’s connections to all 32 teams, with the goal of answering the question surely burning holes in the minds of every NFL fan: Just how Trumpian is your NFL team? We scoured the internet, and figured out which teams really are Trumpier than others. Our scoring system, 0-10 Trumps, is based on friendships, donations, public support and, of course, getting mentioned by Trump on Twitter. Any notable opposition to the president has resulted in a score reduction. So, just how Trumpian is your team?
Arizona, perhaps more than any state in America, encapsulates the dramatic demographic shifts that occurred in the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton improved on Obama’s margins, turning what was a 9-point 2012 loss into a 3.5-point 2016 loss and setting the stage for a possible flip in future elections. Trump sought out Arizona during his post-victory campaign tour to shore up his support in the crucial state, but his scheduled rally just days after the Charlottesville horror drew much stronger criticism from the locals including offensive tackle DJ Humphries.
Cardinals owner and team president Michael Bidwill was hesitant to support Trump and reportedly discussed donating to Senators Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake, two Republicans that have distanced themselves from the President. Bidwill, a Chris Christie donor in the 2016 primaries, has made few public comments regarding Trump, and all indications are that Trump’s Arizona love goes mostly unrequited from the Cardinals.
The Falcons had the misfortune of committing two cardinal sins in the eyes of Trump: playing his Patriots in the Super Bowl and being losers. When it comes to the president, the Falcons may be as close to the anti-Patriots as possible. Where Robert Kraft has made clear his Trump sympathies, longtime Democratic donor and Falcons owner Arthur Blank is on record making statements that range from jabbing Kraft for their friendship to expressing dismay at the tone and content of the nascent Trump presidency in January 2017. In addition to Blank’s public distaste for Trump, like many other players, TE Jacob Tamme criticized Trump for his “locker room talk” vulgarity. Further, though Georgia as a state, voted for Trump, the Falcons reside in the heart of Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, represented by John Lewis, one of Trump’s most vocal critics. When Lewis announced he would not attend the inauguration, Trump said the civil rights activist who marched with Martin Luther King was all talk and no action.
The Baltimore Ravens, playing in the bluest state this side of Hawaii, have struck a different tone towards Trump than the rest of their region. Notably, John Harbaugh came out in support of Trump’s plan for a border wall in August 2015, though he has voiced support of un-Trumpian plans like amnesty and a path to citizenship for undocumented residents. The Trump association extends past Harbaugh: Team president Dick Cass is a longtime Republican donor, and Trump hosted a pre-inauguration party featuring future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis. Lewis, who has supported Trump in the past, also played a role in the Ravens’ refusal to sign Trump foil Colin Kaepernick.
The Ravens have not been all in favor of Trump. Veteran TE Ben Watson had strong words for Trump after the Charlottesville attacks, saying “I was not disappointed in President Trump for not initially condemning white supremacists because I did not expect him to directly condemn those who so vehemently support him.”
Still the Ravens’ possess an overall Trumpian tilt. After all, the president did settle the most pressing question of our day.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2015
The Buffalo Bills, the only team to play in Trump’s home state, never seemed to cross the real estate mogul’s radar. That is, until former owner Ralph Wilson died in 2014 and the Bills’ owners put the team up for sale, when the possibility of making headlines seemed to pique Trump’s interest. Trump was outbid by current owner Terry Pegula, but at least the future president handled his losing bid with dignity and class.
Even though I refused to pay a ridiculous price for the Buffalo Bills, I would have produced a winner. Now that won’t happen.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2014
Trump and the Bills would coalesce a couple of years later when he ran for president. In a not-extremely-surprising development, then-coach Rex Ryan found a strong affinity for Trump’s provocative style, and introduced him at a Buffalo rally in spring 2016, later saying, “I think anybody who is against him now is against our country.” Trump, beaming from the praise, falsely introduced Ryan as a coach who “had won championships.” Current Bills lineman Richie Incognito was equally enamored with Trump the candidate. “I think that [Trump] can help this nation get back to a world superpower,” he said a month before the election.
Cam Newton’s decision to support the “all lives matter” movement seems to have paid off in helping him avoid the Trump topic. The rest of his team, however, has been more vocal. Coach Ron Rivera was very critical of Trump’s immigration policy, saying “We can’t lock people out,” while Trump’s emphatic endorsement of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 may have doomed the Panthers.
The only thing worth less to the Panthers than criticism from Trump, though, may be an endorsement from Trump. In April, the president praised then-Panther UDFA Ben Boulware for being picked by the Panthers, saying that Boulware, visiting the White House with his national championship team from Clemson, was going to be a great player. The Panthers seemed to disagree; they cut him before the season started.
Chicago, as a city, is a frequent Trump target, often for the violence on its streets and usually as a way to deflect criticism from the latest inner city catastrophe Trump has ignored. The current Bears have done little to move the needle either way as far as Trump’s relationship with Chicago goes. While Kyle Long is on record saying he would have “Area 51 questions” if he visited Trump, the most notable conduit between the Bears and Trump is likely ex-coach Mike Ditka. It’s a biggie.
Ditka, a lifelong Republican and 2016 Ben Carson donor, was so enamored with Trump that he was reportedly considered for a speaking slot at the Republican convention. Though he has no formal role in the Bears organization, a team ambassador as intertwined with with the franchise and outspoken as Ditka is enough to tilt the scale towards Trump for the Bears.
The Cincinnati metro area, which includes parts of not just Ohio but Indiana and Kentucky, is in the heart of Trump country. It’s not that surprising, then, that many Bengals players are fans of Trump. Tyler Eifert, AJ McCarron and Clint Boling were all spotted at an October 2016 Trump rally, while owner Mike Brown donated heavily to Republicans up and down the ballot in 2016.
It appears that some Bengals may have a fan in Trump as well given that he praised the Bengals’ choice of McCarron in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. All things considered, the Bengals clearly lean Trumpian.
Trump is no stranger to Cleveland. The location of the 2016 Republican Convention, Ohio was the centerpiece of Trump’s Rust Belt strategy that won him the White House. The Browns as a whole, however, seem less enthused about the President. Owner Jimmy Haslam, a lifelong Republican donor, gave to Ohio governor John Kasich, who notably refused to endorse Trump. Additionally, Browns players staged the largest national anthem protest of any team in the 2017 preseason, signaling discontent with the current state of affairs under Trump’s watch.
In addition, Cleveland may feel personally victimized by Trump’s scouting advice.
I think somebody should pick Johnny Football – he will be a star.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2014
America’s president has had a fractured, up-and-down relationship with America’s team. Owner Jerry Jones, who often draws Trump comparisons with his taste for gaudy self-celebration, is not as close to Trump as one might expect. Though Jones donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration, he initially supported Cowboys fan Chris Christie and never donated to Trump during the campaign.
Jones may have had reason for a chilly relationship with Trump. Donald Trump Jr., a New York native like his father, had few nice words for the Giants’ division rivals and their fans. The president perhaps started his string of bad football predictions when discussing the Cowboys in the past. In a 1984 interview Trump said, “I feel sorry for the poor guy who is going to buy the Dallas Cowboys. It’s a no-win situation for him.”
The strongest Cowboys-Trump connection comes from QB turned superstar analyst Tony Romo, who hit the Inauguration party scene in January at Trump Hotel in D.C. Trump also offered words of support when Romo broke his clavicle in 2015, “I think Tony’s a great guy, I know him and he’s also a great football player and it certainly will hurt Dallas.”
Much like Jeff Sessions, CNN, and the tape holding his tie together, Donald Trump has a weird love-hate-more recently love relationship with the Denver Broncos. He voiced praise for John Elway’s 2012 endorsement of Mitt Romney. But Trump thenexpressed doubts about the organization’s defense and its overall effort on the field. However, he rooted for the Broncos in Super Bowl 50 because of his “good friend” Peyton Manning. On balance, the Broncos have been a Trump-friendly franchise. Ex-coach Mike Shanahan spoke at a Trump rally in Denver and cornerback Aqib Talib contradicted other athletes by saying Trump’s Access Hollywood comments would belong in an NFL locker room.
But the biggest current Trump fan appears to be Elway, who attended the Inauguration, wrote a public letter in support of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, and the kicker:
Rumor of us being interested in anyone other than the QBs we have is another example of irresponsible, fake news!!
— John Elway (@johnelway) August 9, 2017
One of the oddest controversies of any involving Trump implicates the Broncos, too: on January 14, 2012, Donald Trump used money from the Trump Foundation to buy a signed helmet of then-Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow at a charity auction. That same day, Tebow and the Broncos lost in the playoffs to Trump’s Patriots, thus unceremoniously ending Tebowmania.
Donald Trump won Michigan, but he has few fans in Detroit, and even fewer in the Lions locker room. Though WR Golden Tate was once spotted in March 2016 wearing a MAGA hat while golfing at Trump National, he made clear his feelings towards Trump after blasting the president’s response to the violence in Charlottesville. Additionally, lower-profile players like Darius Slay, Ameer Abdullah and former Lion Isa Abdul-Quddus have all criticized Trump’s comments about Muslims and Mexicans. DeAndre Levy joined in in October 2016, slamming Trump’s excuse of “locker room talk” after the Access Hollywood tape leaked.
The Ford family, which owns the Lions, does not appear to be Trump friendly either. In 2016 they gave almost entirely to Democratic candidates, donating tens of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. This didn’t stop Trump from touting a Ford deal as an example of his influence on American manufacturing, though it can’t have helped his image among the ownership group.
Green Bay Packers
In his devotion to the states that swung the tide in the 2016 election, Trump has a natural affinity for the Packers. At a Wisconsin “thank-you” rally in December 2016, Trump and then-VP-elect Mike Pence received Packers jerseys from Speaker of the House and Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan.
Indeed, the Packers, a publicly owned team, likely went for Trump as a demographic, considering that the state of Wisconsin voted for Trump and that the Packers’ ownership group skews white.
Trump isn’t all cozy with the Packers, though. QB Aaron Rodgers commented that Trump’s “locker room talk” was not representative of NFL locker rooms. In addition, former player Leroy Butler criticized Trump’s transgender ban on Twitter.
Finally, it appears the halcyon days of Trump in Wisconsin may be ending soon. Trump registered just a 33% approval rating in Wisconsin in an August poll.
Of every owner west of Foxboro, it’s likely Trump has the coziest relationship with Texans owner Bob McNair. McNair personally donated $2.4 million to Trump’s candidate committee during the campaign, by far the largest disclosed personal donation to the campaign among NFL owners, and followed it up with a $1,000,000 donation to the Inauguration committee.
Outside of the C-suite, Trump has had nice words for other Texans in the past. When the 2017 NCAA Champion Clemson Tigers visited the White House this spring, Trump heaped heavy praise upon DeShaun Watson, saying “he’ll be a great player.”
Trump’s Vice President, Mike Pence, was once governor of Indiana. Peyton Manning golfed with Trump over the summer, calling it un-American to turn down an invite from the president, and the legendary Colt (sorry, Broncos fans) spoke at a GOP retreat a week after the inauguration. There are few other known ties, though Colts owner Jim Irsay swung and missed on his Election Day prediction of what winning the presidency may do to Trump.
The WEIGHT of The White House; rounds n softens the edges of any man or woman. It demands greatness n inspires all souls towards leadership!
— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) November 9, 2016
Jacksonville, the metro area that voted for Trump by the biggest margin of any NFL media market, is fertile ground for Trumpism. Indeed, the Jaguars’ billionaire owner, Shahid Khan, has a well-documented relationship with Donald Trump. He donated over $1 million to the inauguration committee, and as owner of the Toronto Four Seasons, has seen real estate success similar to that of Trump. However, their relationship may have thawed over Trump’s policies; in February, Khan, the only Muslim NFL owner, came out against Trump’s travel ban, calling it “not good” and remarking that the ban’s passage was “kind of a sobering time for someone like me.”
Trump’s bad football predictions continued in Jacksonville when last preseason he starting off a campaign rally by commenting that he had “heard good things” about the Jaguars that year. The team went 3-13.
Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City is known more for its steaks than its takes. Perhaps for that reason, the Chiefs have had little interaction with Trump. Outside of WR Chris Conley coming out against Trump’s Access Hollywood tape comments in October 2016, the Hunt family and Chiefs leadership as a whole has had sparse association with the president. The commanders of the Chiefs have avoided controversy with the Commander in Chief.
Los Angeles Chargers
The 8th-most popular team in a city with eight teams, the Los Angeles Chargers are nobody’s idea of headline makers, and indeed they have had little conflict with Trump.
According to the San Diego Union Tribune, players voted for both candidates. Backup quarterback Kellen Clemens was all in on Trump, while linebacker Joshua Perry, upset by Trump’s rhetoric toward women, backed Clinton.
Notably, Philip Rivers once used the term “fake news” to dispel personal rumors but has failed to articulate much else publicly. While owner Dean Spanos donated to now-Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and now-unemployed Jeb Bush, little has been heard from him regarding Trump either.
Los Angeles Rams
Since their move from red Missouri to blue California, the Rams have apparently sought to put similar distance between their organization and the president. As their players have remained mostly silent on Trump, the president has returned the favor, with one small exception; owner Stan Kroenke quietly donated to Trump’s inauguration committee in January.
While both Donald Trump and Miami Dolphins players are likely to be found sitting on a Florida couch watching TV on a given Sunday afternoon in January, the connection between the two groups mostly stops there. Except for the Miami’s quarterback room. Both Jay Cutler and Ryan Tannehill have in the past praised Trump, with Tannehill calling him “very nice” when the two met at Doral in 2015, while Cutler more bluntly stated “I’m happy with the results” after the election ended.
Owner Stephen Ross, though, did not express the same praise. After stating that he respected Trump but didn’t think see him as president, Ross donated to vocal Trump critic and Republican challenger George Pataki in the 2016 primaries and to Patrick Murphy, Marco Rubio’s Democratic challenger, in Florida’s 2016 US Senate election.
Trump does have one more esoteric connection to the team – in 1983, Trump and his fledgling New Jersey Generals of the USFL attempted to sign away legendary coach Don Shula. Though his plan failed, had Trump been able to sign away Shula from the soon-to-be AFC Champion Dolphins, NFL history could have changed dramatically.
The most interesting tangential Trump-Dolphins connection may be Jeb Bush’s bizarre insistence on lying, in a debate, by saying his fantasy team was 7-0 in 2015 starting Ryan Tannehill. Come on Jeb. You were fooling nobody. Tannehill threw for more than 300 yards exactly once in the first seven weeks of that season.
Though they are the nearest team to Trump’s preferred resort at Mar-a-Lago, the Dolphins are far from as Trumpian as they could have been.
The Vikings, not usually one of the brasher teams in the NFL, unsurprisingly have had little confrontation with Donald Trump. While owner Zygi Wilf has drawn comparisons to Trump in his real estate practices, takes on Trump have generally been left to ex-Vikings. Outspoken former punter Chris Kluwe has been harshly critical of Trump before and during his administration, while ex-RB and onetime Trump recruit Herschel Walker said that Trump’s desire for a wall didn’t necessarily make him racist. Neither statement does much to impact the Trumpiness of the Vikings.
New Orleans Saints
Donald Trump’s tweets from 2013 tend to veer more towards the “fodder for ironic retweets four years on” category, yet for a week that January he was concerned with something far more pressing: the existence, or lack thereof, of Lennay Kekua, girlfriend of now-Saints linebacker Manti Te’o. Convinced Te’o lied about Kekua to have a chance at the Heisman, the future president was letting the takes fly around the time Obama was inaugurated for the second time.
Te’o is not the only Saint Trump has tweeted about. In 2012 he congratulated Drew Brees for breaking the NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass. But while Saints owner Tom Benson is a longtime Republican donor, he only gave to ex-Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal in 2016 before shifting his dollars to Jeb Bush’s campaign.
New England Patriots
There is no doubt New England Patriots and Donald J. Trump have much in common, like an extreme desire to win and willingness to break rules in order to gain an edge. Trump has high-profile friendships with the most prominent Patriots up and down the organization, from owner Robert Kraft to quarterback Tom Brady to head coach Bill Belichick. Years of fawning tweets have showcased Trump’s personal interest in the success of the New England Patriots. But his relationship with the storied franchise has been especially front and center the past two years.
Kraft, a longtime personal friend and frequent political donor, showered $1 million on Trump’s Inauguration fund and attended every inauguration event of his fellow billionaire. Trump and Brady have been friends since 2002, when Trump flew the quarterback to judge the Miss Universe pageant. Brady says he’s golfed withTrump at least 15 or 16 times and, of course, famously displayed a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker room after a 2015 game. Trump reciprocated by displaying a Brady helmet in his office. While Brady did not attend the White House this year, former communications director Anthony Scaramucci speculated that the visit may have been kiboshed by Gisele because of some type of potential history between Brady and Ivanka. As we all know, the Mooch has always steered us in the right direction.
Additionally, Trump read a letter from Belichick at a New Hampshire rally on election eve. (Though he lost the state to Clinton.)
Trump did exhibit poor fan behavior when he left his Super Bowl party once the Patriots were down 28-3. But Kraft still gifted the president Trump with a Super Bowl ring, allowing Trump to enter the rarefied air of “world leaders with a Patriots Super Bowl ring,” a club that until February had only one member – Vladimir Putin.
New York Giants
If Donald Trump has a hometown team, it is probably the New York Giants. Trump’s relationship with the Giants is odd, though, mostly due to the fact that there isn’t much of a relationship. Part of this, surely, must be that Giants owner Steve Tisch donated to Hillary Clinton, but it seems the only admiration Trump has for anyone in the Giants organization is Eli Manning.
Eli Manning. Great Athlete. Great Guy. @NYGiants great teamwork!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2012
Manning’s view of Trump is positive enough that he was heard using “Trump” as an audible in an October 2016 game.
The president’s relationship with the rest of the organization is, at best, frosty. There must be some residual animosity stemming from Trump signing Lawrence Taylor to the USFL’s New Jersey Generals. More seriously, ex-Giants fullback had his house vandalized with Trump’s name and swastikas following the election. The most damning evidence, however, stems from this evergreen tweet:
The New York Giants are looking really bad so far tonight. Does not get much worse than this!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2013
New York Jets
Donald Trump, a social climber from Queens infamously desperate for approval from the old money institutions in Midtown, seems like he might identify with the Jets. Indeed, in the past he’s had difficulty choosing between the Jets and his beloved Patriots. Like many other owners, Jets owner Woody Johnson is a longtime RNC donor who originally supported Jeb Bush and endured the wrath of Trump.
Woody Johnson, owner of the NYJets, is @JebBush’s finance chairman. If Woody would’ve been w/me, he would’ve been in the playoffs, at least!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2016
Johnson was able to curry favor with the future president by switching his endorsement (and his money) from Bush to Trump. Perhaps in response, Johnson received the plum Ambassadorship to the United Kingdom this January, navigating what are surely difficult diplomatic ties.
As for Jets players, reactions to Trump are more mixed. Calvin Pryor and Buster Skrine each criticized Trump’s remarks minimizing the impact of concussions in October of 2016. Famous former Jet and beard-cultivator Nick Mangold, on the other hand, went so far as to introduce Trump at an Ohio rally that March.
The owner being in the administration already meant the Jets would receive the highest Trumpian score, but in case there was any doubt…
Donald Trump has never been much of a fan of Oakland. In May 2016, Trump said that Oakland and Ferguson were among the most dangerous places on Earth. It seems much of Oakland is not a fan of Trump either. Not only did the city of Oakland vote Clinton over Trump by an 88-5 margin, Trump’s worst in any NFL city, the late Al Davis even testified against Trump and the USFL’s Oakland Invaders in the 1986 court case that eventually doomed the league.
Marshall Lynch sat for the anthem following the Charlottesville saga and while he did not state his reasoning it’s safe to assume Lynch won’t be golfing with Trump any time soon. He did, however, partner with another president last year.
— CGI (@ClintonGlobal) April 3, 2016
One bright spot for Trump exists among his bleak outlook with the Raiders: star QB Derek Carr caught heat after the inauguration for tweeting that we all need to rally around our leader, and stood by his comments when questioned. While that’s worth more than a packet of Skittles, it’s safe to say the Raiders are not Trumpian by any stretch of the imagination.
Eagles fans, world-renowned for their etiquette and sportsmanship, would seem to have a natural affinity for Trump. One fan went so far as to brand himself with a hideous Trump-with-Eagle-hair abomination.
Wherever the fans may stand on Trump, the Eagles as an organization strike a notably different tone. Chris Long and Torrey Smith both have criticized Trump in the past, each taking exception to comments from Trump over Charlottesville or the infamous video of Trump wrestling a CNN logo.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie, in addition, was a huge Clinton donor and historic donor to Democratic causes, neither of which are likely to make Trump a fan of his.
As hard as some fans may try, it’s clear the Eagles are not very Trumpian.
Donald Trump has, in the past, touted himself as the President of Pittsburgh and not Paris, yet his relationship with the Steelers and the city is about as cold as a French waiter taking an order for a side of ketchup with frites. As he so often does, Trump claimed QB Ben Roethlisberger was a good personal friend in 2016, even going so far as to suggest Roethlisberger would attend that summer’s GOP convention, a statement Roethlisberger would later rebuke.
Trump’s disconnect with the Steelers extends farther than under center, though, and exists throughout the organization. Players like OT Ryan Harris have spoken out in the past about Trump’s anti-Islam comments, and coach Mike Tomlin hosted a Hillary Clinton fundraiser in his home. And of course, late owner Dan Rooney served as an ambassador to Ireland under President Obama.
Some have even suggested that Trump’s effect on the Steelers has transcended the natural world: in October 2016, the Steelers were riding high at 4-1 and looked to be on the path to an easy playoff berth when Trump came to town on October 10 and waved the Terrible Towel. The Steelers proceeded to drop their next four games, potentially putting their playoff hopes on ice before they recovered, winning their last seven games to make the playoffs.
San Francisco 49ers
One would expect the team that employed Colin Kaepernick to have drawn copious criticism from Donald Trump, but the president has had little bite toward a team with multiple critical members.
This inaction perhaps stems from Trump’s chummy relationship with ex-owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. who, along with Jim Brown, co-hosted a Trump pre-inauguration party. Trump has steered clear from criticizing the 49ers, instead crediting himself with causing Kaepernick’s protracted free agency.
Trump, as he is prone to, offered his thoughts on quarterback play. At an Iowa rally in January 2016, Trump claimed then-Iowa QB and now-49er CJ Beathard, “the next Tom Brady.” Watch out, Brian Hoyer.
The Seattle Seahawks, playing in one of the most liberal enclaves in the country, are predictably not fans of Trump. The president reciprocated those feelings following Seattle’s dramatic Super Bowl XLIX loss, even taking a shot at President Obama.
It must have been President Obama that called in what will go down as the DUMBEST PLAY IN THE HISTORY OF FOOTBALL. Same thought process!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2015
Love that Patriots won – Brady is best ever! Seahawks pass was DUMBEST play in the history of football! Great going COACH B!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2015
The Seahawks, for their part, have displayed plenty of opinions about Trump. Stars across Seattle’s lineup, from Russell Wilson (who voted for Hillary and was distraught by the travel ban) to Doug Baldwin to Richard Sherman, have all voiced unified opposition to Trump’s policies and communication style. Michael Bennett was especially critical over the Access Hollywood recordings, and has continued his anthem protest in part because of the deepening racial inequality in the country.
Aside from Tump buying his Boeing 757 from Seahawks owner Paul Allen and possibly a common bond with Pete Carroll over their desire to get to the bottom of 9/11, Trump has few connections to anyone inside the organization.
Trump can take some solace in the fact that ex-Congressman and Hall of Fame Seahawks WR Steve Largent is willing to come to his defense. Largent blamed “subterfuge” for the overall lack of policy action in the Trump administration. Still, the vibe in Seattle is decidedly not Trumpian.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs have had few conflicts with Donald Trump, but what has occurred has made headlines. Most notably, Mike Evans kneeled the Sunday following the election to protest his victory.
As far as political money goes, multinational investor Ed Glazer, owner of the Buccaneers, gave $55,000 to Trump, but hedged his bets by donating $5,000 to Hillary Clinton. While it is common practice among the exorbitantly wealthy to donate to both sides of an election, Glazer’s clear favoritism to Trump nudges the Buccaneers up a notch or two.
While Trump ran away with the state of Tennessee in the 2016 election, he appears to have little connection to the Titans. LB Justin Staples was sued by a Trump hotel for wedding costs in February 2017 that the hotel claimed went unpaid, while then-Titans cornerback Jason McCourty echoed criticisms of Trump by other athletes in 2016 when he said, “I can’t stand Trump. That’s it — just not voting for Trump. He don’t like me. I’m going to leave that right where it’s at.” Aside from this comment, there has been little public interaction between the President and the Titans.
The President’s new hometown team has taken the transition somewhat well. Owner Dan Snyder, famous for a Trump-like personality of his own, has a similar nepotism-boosted business background to Trump, including purchasing the franchise mainly on borrowed money. Snyder is also a seasoned Republican donor who donated to Trump rival Jeb Bush in the primaries, yet donated over $1 million to the inauguration. Additionally, Kirk Cousins was spotted golfing with the president this summer. But the president is even chummier with another Washington quarterback. Joe Theismann, appearing on Fox and Friends in January, suggested everyone support Trump and his travel ban because he has a job to do “just like Tom Brady.”
Not surprisingly, Trump the candidate publicly supported Snyder’s insistence on keeping his team’s nickname, claiming the furor “too politically correct.” The Trump administration has largely followed suit, with Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice issuing a brief arguing that the team should win their copyright case and clearing the legal hurdles that would allow them to keep their nickname. Seems like that money paid off.