You know the saying, “he never gave it a second thought”?

Yeah, the implication is usually that “he” ought to have taken a second to think about the consequences.

It’s actually a part of human intelligence, and if you always go with your first instinct you’re going to become a likely nominee for a Darwin Award.

That’s how I feel about the changes pro football has made to protect players against concussions. Like Donald Trump, I get annoyed when I see a penalty called on what I consider a good defensive play. I see a big hit and I get excited. And I know what was traditionally an illegal hit. I don’t get excited about those. I like good, hard, legal hits, and it bugs me when they tell me that there was a defenseless player. I mean, “Guess what? Don’t come over the middle if you don’t want to get hit.”

So, I get it. The NFL is soft compared to the way it used to be, and I miss the old days.

But then I have a second thought.

And my second thought is that football is turning these players’ heads to mush. Recent research on concussions shows that just playing sports like football and soccer puts you at risk of significant cognitive impairment later in life. I coach a pee wee soccer club and I have to do an online seminar on concussions twice a year just to be certified. I know that the hits that used to be legal are the kinds of hits that bounce the brain around inside the cranium. You don’t even need to get hit in the head, all you need is to stop or change directions too quickly and you can sustain a brain injury.

So, I get annoyed by a penalty flag for a moment and then I have that second thought that this is necessary to protect the health of these human beings who are performing for my enjoyment.

You don’t want a president who can never get to that second thought.

TRUMP: What I just said about a game — 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? Ray Nitschke — you used to see these tackles and it was incredible to watch, right?

Now they tackle. ‘Oh, head-on-head collision, 15 yards.’ The whole game is all 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 our country has become soft. [Applause]

In other words, he’s just not as smart as he thinks he is.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at