Does Donald Trump Hate the NFL Because of the Buffalo Bills?

Donald Trump went into battle with the NFL over the weekend, sparking a backlash and a show of unity from the league’s players and team owners on Sunday night.

After provoking a defiant reaction with his comments at a rally in Alabama on Friday that NFL owners should “fire” any player taking a knee during the national anthem, Trump continued his barrage on Sunday evening.

“Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!” Trump tweeted during the league’s Sunday night schedule.

While the president was likely trying to appeal to his right-wing supporter base with his calls for defense of patriotism, there could be another, less obvious reason for Trump’s decision to take on one of the world’s biggest and most lucrative sports brands.

During Sky Sports’ broadcast of the Kansas City Chiefs’ victory over the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center Sunday, Sports Illustrated and Monday Morning Quarterback writer Peter King appeared via video link to provide analysis of the weekend’s events.

Trump, King suggested, has held a grudge against the NFL since 2014, when he failed in an attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills franchise.

“I’m going to give it [buying the Bills] a heavy shot,” Trump told the Buffalo News in April 2014. “I would love to do it, and if I can do it I’m keeping it in Buffalo.”

It didn’t happen, of course. While Trump did join the bidding process, part of an eclectic cast including Jon Bon Jovi, the team was eventually sold to Terry Pegula. “I bid a billion dollars, all cash on the table,” Trump told Sports Illustrated in September 2015. “He [Pegula] bought it for a billion-two, I believe, although they say it was a billion-four. I think he got it for a billion‑two.”

Trump’s bruised ego was evident from his tweets following the Bills’ sale. In October 2014 he wrote:

While the Bills have mostly been terrible since Pegula took control, they have shown signs of life this season. Under head coach Sean McDermott, the Bills are first in the AFC East ahead of the New England Patriots and took out an impressive victory over the Denver Broncos at Ralph Wilson Stadium on Sunday.

At least Trump could once count on the team he failed to buy being terrible. The Bills’ improvement may just compound a difficult weekend for the president.

Join the Discussion