Everything may indeed be bigger in Texas, including the bravado of its politicians when talking about targets that are safely out of town.
After the NFL suggested last week that future events in Texas could be threatened if they pass a “bathroom bill” that would limit the rights of transgender Texans, Texas governor Greg Abbott fired back at the league.
He did so in a friendly environment, appearing on conservative talk show host Glenn Beck’s program, allowing him to jangle his spurs with great vigor.
“The NFL is walking on thin ice right here,” Abbott said, via the Texas Tribune. “The NFL needs to concentrate on playing football and get the heck out of politics.”
Last week, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said proposed laws that are “discriminatory or inconsistent with our values” would “certainly be a factor” for considering future events in the state, such as Super Bowls like the one that just left Houston.
But Abbott fired back when given the opportunity to discuss an issue he’s previously been very quiet on, after letting lieutenant governor Dan Patrick take the lead on the proposed legislation which would require transgender persons to use the bathrooms corresponding with their genetic identity rather than how they identify.
“For some low-level NFL adviser to come out and say that they are going to micromanage and try to dictate to the state of Texas what types of policies we’re going to pass in our state, that’s unacceptable,” Abbott told Beck. “We don’t care what the NFL thinks and certainly what their political policies are because they are not a political arm of the state of Texas or the United States of America. They need to learn their place in the United States, which is to govern football, not politics.”
For one thing, McCarthy is a rather high-level adviser. For another, it’s not dissimilar to veiled threats by the league toward governments in the past. Georgia governor Nathan Deal vetoed a “religious liberty” bill which many considered discriminatory, and lo and behold, Atlanta was awarded a Super Bowl shortly thereafter.
But Abbott was on a roll, so he threw some more red meat into the cage, suggesting that Texans were no longer as fond of the NFL because of Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests.
“I cannot name or even count the number of Texans who told me that they were not watching the NFL,” Abbott said. “They were protesting the NFL this year because of the gross political statement allowed to be made by the NFL by allowing these players, who are not oppressed, who are now almost like snowflake little politicians themselves unable to take the United States national anthem being played.”
It’s great fodder for the base back home, and it will be years before the Super Bowl rotation goes back to Texas anyway. But Abbott staked out of a strong position, taking that “Don’t Mess with Texas” spirit to a level that Jerry Jones and Bob McNair may be uncomfortable with one day.