Donald Trump, the king of the publicity stunts, insists this isn’t one of them: He really wants to buy the Buffalo Bills, and he pledges to keep the NFL team in Buffalo.
“I’m going to give it a heavy shot,” Trump told Tim Graham of the Buffalo News on Monday. “I would love to do it, and if I can do it I’m keeping it in Buffalo.”
And his reason for keeping the team in New York? Pure selfishness.
“I live in New York, and it’s easier for me to go to Buffalo than any other place,” Trump said. “Where am I going to move it, some place on the other side of the country, where I have to travel for five hours?”
While there have been reports that New Jersey rock star Jon Bon Jovi is a front man for a Toronto group that wants to purchase the team and move it to Canada, no one from that group has spoken on the record about its interest. Other possible buyers have been mum, too -- which left an opening for Trump to stick a flag in the ground.
Somewhere between runs for the White House, his reality television show, appearances on Fox News to bash the president and mega real estate deals, Trump says he can find time to run an NFL team at the right price, of course. (He’ll sell his interest in two Atlantic City casinos that bear his name, he says, if the league insists.)
“I have a track record that’s pretty much unparalleled,” Trump said, “but that doesn’t mean that I pay stupid prices. Somebody could come out and bid through the roof for the Bills, something crazy. In which case, I’m sorry I can’t do anything about that. You have to be sane. But maybe there’s not going to be any other bids. You never know with these things.”
Trump doesn’t believe there’s any residual resentment over a $1.7 billion antitrust lawsuit he and other USFL team owners filed against the NFL in 1984. Trump bought the New Jersey Generals and steered the league from a spring schedule to the fall to go head-to-head with the NFL, and also helped drive up players’ contract prices.
Some believe he hastened the USFL’s demise, but he insists direct competition with the NFL was the only way the USFL could survive.
“I think the NFL owners respected me for it because I took a dead league and made it hot,” Trump said. “But my thing when I bought the team was, ‘I will not play football in the spring. Even if they would have teetered along for another couple years, it wouldn’t have survived in the spring. And if I hadn’t gotten involved, they wouldn’t have lasted another season.
“The NFL owners that I know and are very honest about it, they’ll tell you I did a good job and they have respect for me. And I have respect for them.”