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Woody Paige: A brief history of President Trump's convoluted NFL involvement

September 24, 2017 Updated: September 25, 2017 at 9:57 am
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Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) runs against Denver Broncos inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (54) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

The Denver Broncos, the NFL, the president, the people and the country were trapped in a travesty Sunday.

It would have been a good day to stay in the bedroom, turn off the TV and the cell phone, read a book and pay no attention to the world outside.

A man tweeted at me that he was "never watching the NFL ever again."

A Broncos player said if you don't like the United States, "go somewhere else."

The president said that locking arms is OK, but kneeling is not.

A friend texted me that the country is "going to hell in a hurry in a handbasket."

And nobody seemed to care about health care, the Rockies' outcome, Puerto Rico and Mexico, or what's happening with North Korea.

My head is spinning like Linda Blair's in "The Exorcist".

The referee for the Broncos-Bills game called a ludicrous unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Von Miller because the league's best defensive player pranked Tyrod Taylor by pretending to help up the quarterback.

Miller accepted blame for the Broncos' loss because the 15-yard advancement allowed the Bills to keep a drive alive and eventually kick a field goal for a 10-point lead that stood up.

Miller, one of 32 Broncos who took a knee before the game during the national anthem, said he joined in the protest because of the president's "assault" on the NFL. All over the league on Sunday, players, coaches and even owners who had supported Donald Trump were reacting adversely to the president's tweets and comments about the NFL.

Meanwhile, the president was trumpeting that the NHL champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, would be attending a ceremony at the White House and are a "great team."

Trump has proven to be so bitter that he never became a member of the elite NFL ownership club.

On May 19, 1985, Trump and the United States Football League team he owned - the New Jersey Generals - came to Colorado and lost to the Denver Gold, 28-24. Trump had persuaded the league's owners to move from spring football to the fall to compete directly with the NFL, then to file an anti-trust lawsuit against the elder, established league. Trump admitted at the time he wanted to force an AFL-NFL-type merger.

Instead, the USFL folded.

Trump attempted at one point to buy the Dallas Cowboys at $50-60 million. When his efforts were thwarted, he claimed the new owner would be a "loser". The Cowboys currently are the highest-valued franchise in the NFL, and Jerry Jones was just inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In 2014, Bills original owner Ralph Wilson died, and his family put the team up for auction. Trump offered $1 billion. When his bid fell short, Trump said he was happy because the NFL was in decline and too soft. Much later, he claimed he had made a "great" decision because he wouldn't have been able to run for the presidency.

In a political speech in Alabama three nights ago, Trump turned ballistic toward NFL players who kneel and said they should be fired, in the manner akin to his former reality show "The Apprentice". He used a rather obscene description of any player (Colin Kaepernick?) who would disrespect the flag and the country's anthem. And he reiterated that the league, which has issues involving concussions, CTE and player health and safety, no longer put forth a hard-hitting game.

Since then, he has recommended a boycott by fans.

The president agitated the preponderance of African-American players, and several conservative owners who had supported Trump financially. They emotionally responded with rather clear statements opposed to his charges. The commissioner released his own critical reaction. And the players offered their reply on Sunday by kneeling and locking arms.

Only one Broncos player, Brandon Marshall, took a knee during the anthem last season. He was joined by a majority of the team on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Americans are as divided on this matter as they were during the election, and on health care, tax reform, the proposed wall, climate change, immigration and practically every other current problem.

Too bad the USFL and the NFL didn't amalgamate, or that Trump didn't purchase a franchise in Dallas or Buffalo.

And too bad the Broncos lost because they played poorly, and the ref didn't have a sense of humor.

But the Rockies prevailed. The bad news is Nolan Arenado left with a hand injury.

This is a complete mess.

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