On Friday morning, news hit that former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez — who committed suicide in jail this April while serving time for the murder of fellow football player Odin Lloyd — had stage 3 (out of 4) CTE when he died. CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is a neurodegenerative disease common among football players and other people who suffer repeated concussions and brain trauma.
On Friday night, President Donald Trump railed against the precautions the NFL has taken to prevent CTE and brain trauma in general.
“Today, if you hit too hard, 15 yards, throw him out of the game! They had that last week. I watched for a couple minutes. Two guys, just really beautiful tackle. Boom, 15 yards! The referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home, she’s just so proud of him. They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game. They want to hit! They want to hit! It’s hurting the game.”
This is not the first time that Trump has whined about this particular issue. He spent part of a campaign stop in Iowa in January of 2016 whining about this as well.
CTE can only be diagnosed post-mortem, but an absurd amount of football players have exhibited symptoms of the disease — which are all quite horrible.
First-stage symptoms include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as well as confusion, disorientation, dizziness, and headaches. Second-stage symptoms include memory loss, social instability, impulsive behavior, and poor judgment. Third and fourth stages include progressive dementia, movement disorders, hypomimia, speech impediments, sensory processing disorder, tremors, vertigo, deafness, depression and suicidality.
Additional symptoms include dysarthria, dysphagia, cognitive disorder such as amnesia, and ocular abnormalities, such as ptosis.
Well, to me, anyway. And probably to you, and also the football men themselves. But not to Donald Trump, who is like “Screw your degenerative brain diseases! I wanna see more TACKLES!” Perhaps some nice Trump supporters would be willing to sacrifice their future mental health and consider getting in some kind of gladiator ring and tackling each other over and over again, so that President Trump can get his jollies?
Also on the the list of things Donald told to go screw last night is the First Amendment and the concept of free speech. “What?” you ask, “I thought Donald Trump and all his good buddies LOVED free speech! Isn’t that the very theme of the failed festival Milo Yiannopoulis tried to put on at Berkeley? Isn’t free speech their favorite?”
But you would be wrong. Trump and his supporters believe not in the kind of free speech protected in the First Amendment and the Constitution, but rather in “muh freeze peach,” an imaginary constitutional amendment that allows jerks to go around spouting racial slurs without anyone calling them a bigot or a racist, and generally protects them from the social consequences of being an asshole.
Thus, most of his venom last night was directed towards Colin Kaepernick and other players sitting during the national anthem. Apparently, an NFL player who doesn’t stand for the anthem in protest of racism is a “son of a bitch” and Nazis are “very fine people.” Got that?
Specifically, he said:
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!’,” Trump said. “You know, some owner is gonna do that. He’s gonna say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’re friends of mine, many of them. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
He then suggested that people should just “pick up and leave” if they go to a game where such a protest is happening. You know, because football tickets are probably cheap enough to do that. Oh that Donald Trump! Always understanding the common folk!
I’m gonna give you a moment so that you can fully imagine what the reaction would be if President Obama had said to fire someone because he disagreed with them politically. Then let’s watch this because it is great and true and hilarious.
If you slow Trump's speech down to about 75% during his NFL rant, he's indistinguishable from your drunk uncle Gary on the 4th of July. pic.twitter.com/hoKC2ADDUi
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) September 23, 2017
There was, of course, lots and lots of support in the MAGA-o-sphere for Trump’s remarks, very likely coming from people who were so mad when Google fired that nice boy just because he sent out a memo saying that his female co-workers were biologically not at smart as he is.
The NFL, however, was far less impressed with Trump’s suggestion that they fire players for protesting!
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had this to say:
“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month,” Goodell said in the statement.
“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”
DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFL players association was even more explicit in his condemnation of Trump’s remarks:
Trump, however, continued on his attack against the men of sportsball today, by rescinding a White House invitation to the Warriors basketball team, on account of player Stephen Curry “hesitating” (ie: saying he would not go):
He sure is a grown ass man! But according to LeBron James, whom I am told is like, the LeBron James of sports, he is also a bum.
We think he is a bum, too!