President Donald Trump bashes NFL, Nike in latest round of critical tweets

Ben Rohrbach

This may shock you, but after taking a somewhat reasoned approach on Nike’s endorsement deal with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in an interview with The Daily Caller that was published on Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump was back to casting Twitter insults on Wednesday morning.

Let’s take this piece by piece.

Have NFL ratings gone ‘WAY DOWN’?

The NFL’s ratings declined roughly 8 percent in 2016 and another 9 percent in 2017, and they are expected to make a similar drop this season, following a trend that television networks across the board are experiencing, as viewers cut cords and seek content from various streaming services.

The NFL’s ratings decline has been less sharp than the 16 percent drop in viewership that broadcast networks experienced as a whole last year. The NFL still dominates TV ratings throughout the season, outdrawing every other professional sport by a wide margin, so “WAY DOWN” is fairly subjective here.

Is Nike getting ‘absolutely killed’?

Likewise, Nike’s stock fell 3.1 percent on Tuesday from its closing price of $82.18 on Friday. Kaepernick’s endorsement deal with the apparel company was announced on Monday. On the whole, the New York Stock Exchange was down roughly a third of a percentage point on Tuesday. While the NYSE was down again during morning trading on Wednesday, Nike was making a slight comeback from the day before.

President Donald Trump finds some entertainment in the NFL. (Getty Images)
President Donald Trump finds some entertainment in the NFL. (Getty Images)

Either way, it’s hard to say, as the president did, “Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts.” Even by a less formal analysis, the number of people supporting Nike’s decision to make Kaepernick the face of its “Just Do It” anniversary ad campaign appears equal to those protesting it.

Did Nike have ‘any idea’ it would be this way?

Of course Nike anticipated the reaction to its Kaepernick campaign, since the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback’s decision to kneel in protest of social injustice and racial inequality during the national anthem became a hot-button issue in the U.S. That’s kind of the whole point, isn’t it?

As one shoe industry executive told Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson on Monday, “Trump could tweet tomorrow for everyone to boycott Nike. I’m sure that was one of the first considerations before a new deal. … But there’s the other side, where Colin Kaepernick could be the most powerful social persona that Nike ever signs. Not necessarily the most lucrative, but just the most powerful in terms of moving the social needle. That’s definitely part of the allure.” So, yeah, they expected this from Trump, too.

Why Does Trump find the NFL hard to watch?

The president said on Wednesday that he finds football “hard to watch” because players refuse to stand for the flag. The number of players who kneel during the national anthem is a small percentage, and ESPN decided not to air the “Star Spangled Banner” prior to games, so it’s hard to know whether anyone is kneeling and harder still to understand how that impacts one’s enjoyment of the game.

We’ve been over this. A lot.

Prior to being president, Trump said he finds the NFL hard to watch because it’s “far too soft”:

Immediately after watching the Super Bowl, the last NFL game to be played before the league opens its 2018 season on Thursday, Trump tweeted congratulations to the Philadelphia Eagles on their win. He then disinvited the Eagles from the White House when it became clear few would actually visit.

We should note that Trump made several failed bids for NFL teams. He instead bought into the USFL, ultimately playing a role in its failure. Also, Nike, the largest single occupant of a Trump Organization property, reportedly plans to leave the $253 million Trump-owned New York City property.

One last thing: It was unclear whether Trump knew the words to the national anthem as he attempted to sing along to the “Star Spangled Banner” at the Alabama-George football national championship game this past January. His White House raised the flag before the customary mourning period for a military hero following Senator John McCain’s death, only to lower it again under political pressure.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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