How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Troubling times in sports & politics

In a January 10 campaign speech in Reno, Nevada, Donald Trump told us why he doesn't watch the NFL much anymore. "The whole game has become screwed up" because "football has become soft like our country has become soft." Much can be learned about Trump from his analogy about the state of the NFL and the state of the nation.

In his own inimitable style, Trump explained why his interest in the NFL has waned of late. It is his contention that violent hits that used to be considered great tackles now draw 15-yard penalties. Here is what Trump said: '"So I'm watching a game yesterday. What used to be considered a great tackle, a violent head-on [tackle], a violent – if that was done by Dick Butkus, they'd say he's the greatest player. If that were done by Lawrence Taylor – it was done by Lawrence Taylor and Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke, right?... Now they tackle: 'Oh, head-on collision, 15 yards." The whole game is so screwed up. You say, "Wow, what a tackle." Bing. Flag. Football has become soft. Football has become soft. Now. I'll be criticized for that. They'll say, "Oh, isn't that terrible?' But football has become soft like the country has become soft."'

Trump went on to pin part of the blame for the softness in the league to the referees and then to extol Tom Brady's virtues. '"The referees, they want to all throw flags so their wives see them at home." He said. "Oh, there's my husband." It's true. "He just broke up - he just gave a 15-yeard penalty on one of the most beautiful tackles made this year." Right?" Trump ended his rant by saying that he finds the NFL, as a whole "boring." We'll, except for Tom Brady, of course. "I love Tom Brady," he said. "I gotta tell you. I love Tom. He's a great guy."'

Like the Donald, I'm watching the NFL less lately. Not because it has become "soft" but rather because of the increasing number of players who act in an undisciplined and reckless manner. Like Trump, I loved the smash-mouth football played by Butkus, Nitschke and Taylor. However, there is a difference between aggressive hard-hitting football and head-hunting as practiced today by out-of-control elements within the NFL who constantly flaunt and bend the rules.

Too many NFL games are affected by the actions of an increasing number of "dirty" players who repeatedly demonstrate a lack of self-control on the field. These players are not just trying to thwart the forward progress of a runner, break up a pass to a wide receiver or prevent a quarterback from completing a pass – the intent of these NFL thugs is to hurt their opponent.

I'm not talking about a helmet-to-shoulder-pad hit like the one that Oakland Raider defensive back Jack Tatum inflicted on New England wide receiver Darryl Stingley on August 12, 1978, which left him a quadriplegic. I'm talking about Bengal Linebacker Vontaze Burfict who is a serial cheap shot offender who has been fined on multiple occasions for helmet-to-helmet and knee-to-helmet hits, dating back to his days at Arizona State.

While not as egregious as Burfict's actions, NY Giant superstar Odell Beckam, in a Week 15 game against the Carolina Panthers, demonstrated a similar lack of self-control when he committed three personal foul penalties and was suspended for one game without pay for multiple violations of safety-related playing rules. Burfict and Beckam became so consumed by their anger that they forgot the goal was to win the game.

What is increasingly occurring in the NFL is akin to the rage and demagoguery that has characterized the Republican presidential primary. What we have is a reckless egocentric uncivil campaign waged by a bomb thrower who is willing to denigrate and defame his opponents and others and play fast and loose with facts.

Don't get me wrong, I realize politics is a contact sport in which rivals will, as we learned in the Broadway phenomenon "Hamilton," viciously skew their opponents. I'm perfectly fine with arguing vigorously and vociferously over contentious issues. It's okay to differ on how to address the immigration issue -- it's another thing to label Mexicans as rapists. It's okay to differ with John McCain on the Middle East – it's another thing to question his courage. It's okay to differ with Megyn Kelly, Carly Fiorina and reporter Serge Kovaleski – it's not okay to refer to their menstrual cycle, their face or to mock their disability. It's okay to attack Hillary Clinton from a policy perspective; it's another thing to label her an "enabler" for her husband's sexual transgressions.

It is ironic that given Trump's obsession with going "soft" that the one football player that he lavished praise on was Tom Brady, who stands accused of flaunting the NFL's rules and "softening" footballs to gain an unfair advantage during last year's NFL championship game. In the end, I believe that Trump will lose because Americans possess a sense of fairness and the means by which you win matters to them.