Did Donald Trump’s failed NFL ownership bid pave the way for his presidency?
There was an election in America on Tuesday night and business mogul/reality star/Home Alone 2 starrer Donald Trump pulled off one of the great upsets in history to defeat Hillary Clinton and become the President-elect of the United States. And, if you're one of the 49% of people who didn't vote for Trump and are treating Wednesday like a national day of mourning (suck it up, first of all), then there's only one thing to blame for President Trump: the National Football League.
Back in 2014, when the Buffalo Bills were up for sale and everything from moving to Toronto to a Bon Jovi-led ownership group was on the table, Trump said he was considering a bid to become an NFL owner.
“I know so many people in Buffalo,” Trump told the city's WBEN-FM, “and they have asked me about looking at that, and I certainly would look at it.”
When the bid started becoming more serious, Trump pledged to keep the Bills in Buffalo (“I live in New York and it's easier for me to go to Buffalo than any other place”) and insisted that his history with the league – which mostly consisted of that time he tried to take it down by moving the fledgling, springtime USFL to the fall, which bankrupted it quickly – wouldn't be an issue. Because NFL owners are never jealous and territorial, you see.
At the time, Trump's interest was considered a publicity stunt that had no chance of becoming true. (Sound familiar?) Trump submitted a bid (reportedly $1 billion) but his and the one for the Bon Jovi group lost out to a $1.4 billion cash bid from Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula. Though he sounded conciliatory after his defeat, it didn't take long for Trump to, well, Trump:
Later, Sports Illustrated asked him if the Bills ownership flop still hurt. Trump said no.
“I'm glad [I lost], because if I bought the Buffalo Bills, I probably would not be [running for president], which is much more important.”
Thus, if Roger Goodell (and Paul Tagliabue and Pete Rozelle) hadn't been so successful in turning the NFL into an unstoppable cash machine, maybe Trump's billion-dollar bid would have been enough and maybe he would have been an NFL owner and maybe right now he'd be figuring out the best time to fire Rex Ryan instead of figuring out whether Ryan would make a good Secretary of State.
Of course, even if Trump had outbid Pegula, NFL owners might have turned him down. (They essentially barred another real-estate developer, Howard Milstein, from buy ingthe Redskins and Milstein had never led a football league to its death nor hung out with Gary Busey on a TV show.) Or maybe he'd have run for president even if he'd bought the Bills.
But hey, since the NFL is getting blamed for everything these days, might as well add to the pile, right?
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