President Donald Trump said that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called to thank him for a provision of a trade deal with Canada that resolves a dispute over the football league’s Superbowl ads.
“I heard that the NFL had a problem with Canada on their advertising. A big, big problem,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Rochester, Minnesota, on Thursday night. “I said, we’ve got to fix the NFL. It took me two minutes. And now our country will be taking tens of millions of dollars more money.”
Trump joked that much of the money would go to NFL players, “but they’ll still hate me.”
Trump completed a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada on Sunday. He didn’t explain in any detail what problem he had resolved for the NFL as part of the deal. “Not going to get into it,” he said.
Canadian regulators ruled in 2016 that U.S. Superbowl ads would be shown north of the border for the first time. It was a decision popular with Canadian football fans, who have had to go online to find glitzy American Superbowl ads from companies such as Anheuser-Busch InBev, while viewing only domestic commercials during the game.
But the NFL and Canadian telecommunications giant BCE Inc., whose Bell Media unit owns rights to the game, opposed the move. The league feared the value of its broadcast rights in Canada would be weakened if Bell couldn’t make money selling domestic advertising for the Superbowl.
The NFL issued a statement Oct. 2 thanking Trump for “bringing about a resolution to our intellectual property issue in Canada,” according to the Washington Post.
After agreeing to the Nafta renegotiation, Trump said, “I got a call from Roger Goodell. He said, ‘Mr. President, I’d to thank you for what you did. You solved a problem that was going on for years.’”
Trump said the owner of the New England Patriots, Bob Kraft, also called to thank him.
Trump has waged a public relations battle with the NFL over some players -- almost all of them black -- who have protested police brutality by kneeling during the National Anthem at the beginning of games.
Nonetheless, Trump said, “I do like them. It’s a great American company.”