Back in October, several dozen NFL players, owners and executives got together to discuss escalating tension between activist athletes and the suits who wanted them to stand during the national anthem. Most of what we know about that meeting comes from a thorough ESPN report from 10 days later, which explained how Jerry Jones had attempted to strong-arm the players, how Robert McNair had compared them to “inmates running the prison” and how Jed York and Jeffrey Lurie had been among the few owners to sympathize with the athletes.
Well on Monday, the New York Times published a piece speculating about when and whether the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, owned by Lurie, would visit the White House. And tucked inconspicuously at the bottom of the piece was this nugget:
Mr. Lurie has also made his political leanings known in private league meetings, including last October at N.F.L. headquarters. Weeks after Mr. Trump attacked the league, several dozen owners, players and league executives met to discuss a plan to donate money to an array of groups fighting social injustice. At one point, a player said that it was difficult to trust the owners because they supported Mr. Trump.
Mr. Lurie took exception.
“Another fact I want to throw out there: Many of us have no interest in supporting President Trump,” Mr. Lurie said, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by The New York Times. “Yes, there are some. There are some players who do, too.”
“But this is not where you brandish a group of people because they own assets in a sport we love, supporting what many of us perceive as, you know, one disastrous presidency,” he said, using a vulgarity to emphasize “disastrous,” then adding, “Don’t quote me.”
We have so many questions. Who took the recording? How did the Times get it? What else is on it? Does the paper plan on publishing more excerpts? Why was this revelation buried deep in an otherwise standard story? And most of all, what was the expletive Lurie used to insult Trump? Did he call the presidency “fucking disastrous?” “Goddamn disastrous?” “Disastrous as shit, maybe?”
The fact that Lurie insulted the president isn’t exactly shocking. The Eagles owner is known as among the most liberal in the NFL, having supported protesting players’ causes and donated $2,700 to a group supporting Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy, as many of his peers around the league supported Trump. Still, it’s noteworthy that Lurie so bluntly used his opposition to Trump to find common ground with the players. It’s also somewhat noteworthy that he views his anti-Trump opinions as something he has to whisper about, as evidenced by his instruction that the players refrain from quoting him.
Given how well Trump takes criticism (and how loyally he reads the New York Times), he might have himself a new least favorite NFL team. Whether or not the Eagles planned on visiting the White House before, Lurie’s comment might just cost them their invitation.