- - Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Brace yourselves, ladies and gentlemen. President Obama is sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong, again.

That’s right. In a world dealing with barbaric terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State and Boko Haram, and a country reeling from race-based protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner’s death, the president decided to target — wait for it — the National Football League.

In an interview on ESPN Radio’s “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd, Mr. Obama spoke about the newly implemented NFL policies on domestic abuse. While he approved of them, he reportedly said, “The way it was handled also indicates the NFL was behind the curve, as a lot of institutions have been behind the curve in sending a clear message. You don’t want to be winging it when something like this happens.”

If he had just left things at this point, I doubt anyone would have reported it. But as we’ve all learned the hard way, Mr. Obama has a tendency to regularly trade in his political filter for a large soapbox.

The president went on to say, “There has been a little bit of an old boys network in terms of how [the NFL] operates.” In his oh-so-humble opinion, “There have been some blind spots that are rooted not just in pro football but dating back to college football, and certain behaviors have been tolerated historically that really should not have been tolerated. Hopefully, this is a wake-up call.”

If you’re shaking your head in disgust right now, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone.

Mr. Obama’s strategy during his two presidential terms has been to get involved in issues that don’t directly deal with his office or political mandate. The list includes the Donald Sterling-National Basketball Association brouhaha, Scotland’s independence vote, Trayvon Martin and even the Ferguson unrest.

Why he felt compelled to criticize the NFL, a privately owned organization, is beyond my comprehension.

Oh, wait. I take that back. He’s gone after the NFL before.

Mr. Obama became the second Democratic president, after Bill Clinton, to state that the Washington Redskins should consider changing their supposedly racist nickname. As he told The Associated Press in October, “If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team — even if it had a storied history — that was offending a sizable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”

In June, wonder of wonders, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office attempted to drop the team’s trademark. To quote a June 19 editorial in The Washington Times, “Funny how that works.”

(As an aside, I wrote a column in The Washington Times with an amusing suggestion: Redskins owner Daniel Snyder should consider changing the team’s name to the Washington Reagans to end this long-running battle. I wasn’t the first person to propose this, of course. Although I appreciated the extensive media coverage, including by Gawker, Salon, CBS Sports and “NBC Nightly News,” I was only trying to be provocative.)

To be sure, Mr. Obama has the right to hold an opinion on any issue he so chooses. Some of his positions on nonpresidential matters have had validity. Others were similar to prevailing views at the time.

That’s not the point, however.

The president, who is supposedly the leader of the free world, shouldn’t be meddling in the NFL’s affairs. It’s a private organization, and they have rules — or must set rules — to deal with difficult and controversial matters. While there’s no question that league commissioner Roger Goodall dropped the ball (if you’ll pardon the pun) on the Ray Rice controversy, the issue of domestic violence is now permanently on the radar.

Meanwhile, to snidely call the NFL an “old boys network,” as Mr. Obama did, is really none of his concern. He doesn’t own a team, and he doesn’t have a say in the league’s day-to-day business affairs.

If the president really doesn’t like this situation, here’s a thought: When he leaves the White House in 2017, I would seriously suggest that he put together a consortium and buy a new or existing NFL franchise. That way, Mr. Obama would have a vote, some influence and the ability to take on the owners with his progressive superpowers and teleprompter skills.

He may then discover that being an NFL owner is a rather cushy position. If that happens, the new kid on the block would surely transform into an old boy in the blink of an eye.

Michael Taube is a contributor to The Washington Times.

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