Roger Goodell avoids talking about Trump as his antics dominate the conversation in the sports world

Roger GoodellDavid J. Phillip/AP

As the sports world continues to grow more vocal about Donald Trump and his early actions as president, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday avoided the subject altogether.

Speaking to the media from Houston ahead of Super Bowl 51, Goodell was asked about Trump’s immigration ban from seven majority-Muslim countries. He chose to stick to football.

“As commissioner of the NFL, I’m singularly focused on the Super Bowl right now,” Goodell said.

Goodell was later asked to comment on a minor controversy from a primetime event on Monday called “Opening Night,” in which members of the Falcons and Patriots were made available to the media. Although several players and coaches were asked about the president, in the transcripts made available from the event, no mentions of Trump or the president were included.

Goodell said he was not in charge of the transcripts, adding that he knew nothing about the controversy.

Goodell’s guarded response echoes that of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has repeatedly avoided any answers about Trump despite a personal relationship with him.

“What’s going on in the world?” Brady responded on Monday when asked about Trump. “I haven’t paid much attention. I’m just a positive person.”

Although Brady and Goodell have both avoided talking about the president, several others in sports world have found their voices on the subject.

NBA head coaches Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich harshly criticized Trump’s immigration executive order, and Raptors’ All-Star guard Kyle Lowry called the decision “bulls—.”

On Tuesday, veteran NBA forward Luol Deng spoke at length about the immigration ban. Deng was born in what is now South Sudan, and he fled the country during the Second Sudanese Civil War. (Sudan is one of the seven Muslim-majority countries named in Trump’s order.)

“A lot of [refugees] go through a lot of things that they have no control of,” Deng said. “To really see a light at the end of the tunnel and to go toward that light and then that light is turned off is very difficult, not just individually, but for the family.”

While the NFL world has been more muted about Trump, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on Tuesday spoke about him, wondering openly whether he would last a full four years in office.

On Sunday, Trump will be interviewed by Bill O’Reilly during Fox’s Super Bowl pregame show.

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