I wasn’t a fan of The Apprentice but I thought Trump’s catch phrase was amusing. I remember him vaguely as a kid from watching Home Alone 2, but I never had a strong opinion of him. I knew he was rich New Yorker who like building buildings and dating super models, and I can recall him being a decent guest on Howard Stern but he wasn’t memorable. In college, I remember my political science teacher explaining how Trump went bankrupt 4 times, but was good at negotiating his way out of debt. He didn’t seem like a great businessman but it looked like he’d found his niche as a reality star. When Obama became president, I thought Trump was ok and I can remember most Americans, left or right, had a positive few of him.
Trump lost love from the Left when he led The Birther Movement in 2011, but I started hating the guy in 2009. It was not politics that made me believe Trump was a scumbag, it was a sports documentary that was part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL? It was about the football league that started before I was born—the USFL. A league that played football in the spring and had greats from Jim Kelly and Herschel Walker.
As an avid football fan, I was extremely curious to know why this league fall apart. Us NFL fans are obsessed with the sport; we have draft parties that involve us finding out what player will go to what team. A football league in the spring with talent sounds ideal with high odds to succeed.
But it only lasted two years. How or more accurately who screwed this up?
By the second act it was obvious Donald J Trump was going to destroy the whole league. You don’t need to be a psychologist (though I have taken classes at the M.S. level) to see a an insecure man motivated by resentment, ego, greed, and grandiosity try to take on the NFL that never let him be an owner. What started out as a promising league that needed time to grow, Trump pressed down on the pedal demanding that USFL play football in the fall instead of the spring–to challenge the NFL. A terrible idea that killed the league. It was a tragic spectacle to see an unhinged man motivated, not by money, but by petty emotions destroying a league. I can remember shaking my head at the TV and thinking: I never knew Trump was such a petty bitch, fuck that guy.
That was it. I never thought much about Trump until he courted the kook and racist demographic by bringing up Obama’s birth certificate. I didn’t have to use my political science degree to know that he was testing the waters to run for presidency, but foolishly, I didn’t take him seriously as a candidate. I thought back on the documentary and assumed people would see how unfit he was to lead anything and it would be a funny footnote in the history books.
What I forgot was how great Trump is at connecting to the egos, fears, and base desires of others. Trump’s greatest skill is getting others to stick out their chests and go along with something that is against their own best interests–that’s how he got out of debt so many times. He led the charge for the USFL to take on the NFL, which was one of the worst business decisions of the 80s, but it looked like it was more about revenge than financial gain. Now, 30 years later he is going after the NFL once again, this time as President of the United States. Trump is the same Trump, bringing to mind the infamous Denny Green tirade about the Bears.
This past weekend the president’s main focus was a twitter war with the NFL instead of helping the American Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. While a part of his base probably doesn’t see Puerto Rico as part of America and love that he’s attacking athletes for a taking a knee, many moderate, liberal, and even conservative Americans are going to see the crisis of Puerto Rico as another Katrina.
Puerto Rico is a disaster and a tragedy, but once again Trump is consumed by his furor to fight the NFL instead of doing what is best for the people around him. The NFL is truly Trump’s White Whale– a way to throw red meat to his base while attacking the club that didn’t let him join. Trump can’t help himself when it comes to the NFL. It’s personal for him, but he doesn’t realize the NBA will get involved, and with all the Hispanic baseball players seeing his atrocious leadership, it’s going to be Trump vs. all athletes that don’t drive cars.
Even when I told people about Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?, no one was that interested in watching it. It’s a great documentary but people don’t need to see it. They are getting the live sequel of it on Twitter every day. The message of the film was that it is the leaders that make a league grow or die, and America is starting to see that Trump’s emotional temperament is his Achilles’ heel that can break the bonds and values the Flag represents and that we hold dearly.