MARGARET BRENNAN: Would you let your son Barron play football?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It’s very, it’s very tough question. It’s a very good question. If he wanted to? Yes. Would I steer him that way? No, I wouldn’t.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I wouldn’t. And he actually plays a lot of soccer. He’s liking soccer. And a lot of people, including me, thought soccer would probably never make it in this country, but it really is moving forward rapidly. I- I just don’t like the reports that I see coming out having to do with football—I mean, it’s a dangerous sport and I think it’s- I- it’s- really tough, I thought the equipment would get better, and it has. The helmets have gotten far better but it hasn’t solved the problem. So, you know I- I hate to say it because I love to watch football. I think the NFL is a great product, but I really think that as far as my son- well I’ve heard NFL players saying they wouldn’t let their sons play football. So. It’s not totally unique, but I- I would have a hard time with it.
That view is not out of the norm. Plenty of parents have grappled with whether their kids should play the sport given the research into head trauma. The NFL cannot be pleased that these comments are coming on the biggest day of the year for the sport in terms of attention, from the leader of the country.
It also has to feel doubly tough getting it both ways. Here were Trump’s comments at a campaign rally prior to the election after a woman in the crowd fainted:
“That woman was out cold, and now she’s coming back,” Trump said from the podium. “See, we don’t go by these new, and very much softer, NFL rules. Concussions — ‘Uh oh, got a little ding on the head? No, no, you can’t play for the rest of the season’ — our people are tough.”
He also said this in September of 2017, at a campaign rally event for Roy Moore in Alabama:
“Today, if you hit too hard, 15 yards, throw him out of the game,” Trump said while throwing a pretend penalty flag during his campaign-style rally in Alabama Friday night. “They’re ruining the game, right? They’re ruining the game. It’s hurting the game.”
In his rambling speech, Trump said he watched the NFL “for a couple of minutes” and said he saw a “beautiful tackle” that resulted in a flag.
The NFL, too wimpy for Trump, but too dangerous for his son.