In a sit-down interview with CBS set to air before the Super Bowl on Sunday, President Donald Trump said he wouldn’t want his son to play football because of how dangerous the game has become.
“I hate to say it because I love to watch football,” Trump said, per a transcript released by CBS. “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. It’s not totally unique, but I would have a hard time with it.”
Trump went on to say that if his youngest child, Barron, wanted to play he would let him, but that he wouldn’t steer him toward the game.
The timing of the comments — coming on the sport’s biggest day of the year — is just as notable as what Trump has said about the NFL in past years.
Trump has often referred to the league as becoming “soft” with games that are filled with too many flags.
I don't know what it is, but I'm getting totally bored watching NFL football. Too many penalties and far too soft! T.V. off and back to work
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2014
The @nfl ratings continue to fall every week and will keep dropping. Boring games–too many flags–too soft!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2014
Calling the NFL “soft” has been a go-to line for the president. It was a common refrain for him during his campaign in 2016, and he used it during his attacks on the league while players protested racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. Trump even mocked the league’s concussion protocol during a 2016 rally in Florida.
Yet, when asked by CBS’ Margaret Brennan if he’d allow Barron to play football, Trump called the sport “tough” and pointed to head injuries as a reason why he wouldn’t want his child to learn the game.
“I just don’t like the reports that I see coming out having to do with football,” Trump said. “It’s a dangerous sport and I think 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.”
Trump also said he has “a lot of people in the NFL” calling and thanking him for passing criminal justice reform, though he offered no evidence or names of league representatives who have done so.
Those comments followed a question about Colin Kaepernick’s protest and the large number of players who followed his lead in kneeling during the national anthem.
“A lot of it had to do with [criminal justice reform],” Trump said. “And I took care of that. I think that people have to, at all times, respect our flag and at all times respect our national anthem and our country. And I think there are plenty of places and times you can protest and you can do a lot. But you can’t do that. That’s my opinion.”
Previously, Trump called for those who kneeled during the anthem to lose their jobs, leading to major backlash from numerous NFL players.
The full interview will air nationally on CBS in two parts. The first half will be shown at 10:30 a.m. ET on “Face The Nation” with the conclusion being broadcast at 3:30 p.m. ET during the network’s Super Bowl coverage.
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