The art of the deal


Donald Trump has often trumpeted his negotiating skills at “the art of the deal” as one of his primary qualifications for being president. For some reason that reminded me of his negotiations with the NFL when he was the owner of the New York Generals in the competing USFL (the United States Football League).

The concept behind the USFL was that they would play their games in the spring. The logic being that there were so many fanatical football fans who wanted to watch football all year long.



I’m not sure if the concept would have worked or not. People are so used to watching football in the fall. But they never really got a chance to find out. Donald Trump — of all people — virtually single-handedly sabotaged the USFL.

After a couple of relatively successful years of spring football, Trump argued that the only way to survive was by going back to playing football in the fall. And Trump had enough power to bend a room full of powerful men (the other owners) to go along with him.

Of course it was suicidal to go head-to-head against the mighty NFL. And with an inferior product, and without the tradition of the NFL teams. Plus, it was “changing horses in mid-stream” and completely destroyed the basic concept and reason-for-being of the USFL in the first place (spring football).

So Trump, in a last-ditch attempt, launched a big all-or-nothing anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL, claiming they violated the anti-monopoly laws.

Well, the USFL actually won the lawsuit. And were awarded a whopping $1 in damages. Or in other words, nothing.

And that was the end of the USFL.