Sunday, October 02, 2016

Yet more evidence that Trump is a sociopath, from football

Fall weekends are for football, in my happy fantasy existence. That's irresponsible; I know. Taking pleasure in watching athletic young men risk their brains and bodies for the profits of the sport's barons is a guilty pleasure. Besides, elections mostly happen in the fall -- during too many years I've missed the football season entirely because there was something more important to attend to.

In 1983, we almost got a professional football league, the USFL, that played in the spring. That would have added an interesting wrinkle. The USFL was a breathe of fresh air, the spawning ground of a wide open style that challenged and eventually was adopted by the established NFL. We owe the USFL for such innovations as the 2 point conversion after a touchdown and instant replay. The new league created a bidding war for stars which raised the compensation of all professional football players.

Trump with a prize property, the great running back Herschel Walker
But the league failed economically after three seasons. Filmmaker Mike Tollin shot video highlight shows for the USFL, so he watched the league's failure from the sidelines, literally. In 2009, he made 30 for 30: Small Potatoes: Who killed the USFL? His short answer to the title's question: Donald Trump! Here's his description:
Many involved, from owners to coaches to players to fans to members of the media, believed that this new spring football league was something special. Three straight years the USFL did the unthinkable and plucked the Heisman Trophy winner away from the NFL. The spring games received good TV ratings and were played before larger than expected enthusiastic crowds. Rule changes made the game more exciting and unpredictable, and the spring league seemed the perfect bridge from the Super Bowl to Labor Day for a football-starved nation.

So what happened? Why didn't it last?

Well, it seems that a certain high-profile and impatient team owner, whose name now adorns towers and hotels and golf courses all over the world, had convinced his colleagues that the league should either move to a fall season and go head-to-head with the NFL, or fold its tents. So after three years of play, the USFL suspended play and focused its efforts on an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL. And after the jury ruled the USFL owners would have to divvy up the princely sum of three dollars, the full amount of the settlement, the tents were indeed packed up hastily.
Tollin's film is fun because for many of its players and some owners, the USFL was football merged with fun, fulfilling a dream of professional play in intimate settings with other enthusiasts and among friendly fans. Those of us who appreciated USFL veterans who later became NFL stars like Steve Young and Doug Flutie can appreciate the delight with which they reminisce here.

But USFL owners were open to the ambitions of the real estate huckster who bought the Jersey franchise in the the second season. Trump sold the other owners on a dream of succeeding on the cheap. Instead of painstakingly nurturing a desirable new product, they would sue the NFL for acting as a monopoly. The film includes a clip of Trump with the lawyer he brought on for the job: Roy Cohn. Nominally they won, but the jury didn't see fit to award the USFL owners the big monetary damages they wanted and the league collapsed. One of the film's interviewee's summarized: "greed and patience don't live together very well."

As in so many other ventures, when Trump could not get what he wanted, he pulled down the edifice around him, and walked away blustering while others suffered. It was all about him. Oh yeah -- "that's business."

Filmmaker Mike Tollin has released a copy of Trump's note to him on being shown the documentary:
Small Potatoes: Who killed the USFL? is readily available for streaming and worth an odd hour for yet another window on the the Trump phenomenon. I was struck by how little the con man has changed over the years. Even in the 80s, he already had the patter and the silly hair. And he already felt no obligation to understand or take responsibility for the effects his actions might have on others around him. The guy is one sick puppy.

1 comment:

Brandon said...

And do you remember the XFL?

Related Posts with Thumbnails