Gov. Greg Abbott is blasting the NFL for raising the prospect that Texas' so-called "bathroom bill" could impact future events in the state — wading into a debate he has so far mostly steered clear of.
"The NFL is walking on thin ice right here," Abbott told conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Tuesday. "The NFL needs to concentrate on playing football and get the heck out of politics."
Almost a week after Houston hosted Super Bowl LI, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement that proposals that are "discriminatory or inconsistent with our values" would "certainly be a factor" for considering future events in Texas. Senate Bill 6, a priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public schools, government buildings and public universities based on their “biological sex." It also would pre-empt local nondiscrimination ordinances that allow transgender Texans to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
"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."
Abbott's remarks are notable because he has taken a mostly neutral stance on Senate Bill 6, saying it addresses legitimate concerns but declining to say whether he supports the legislation. It was not clear Tuesday whether his overall posture toward the bill had changed, and his office did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Abbott first hinted over the weekend that he was not pleased with the NFL getting involved in the bathroom bill debate.
"NFL decision makers also benched Tom Brady last season," Abbott said in a tweet, linking to a story about the NFL statement. "It ended with NFL handing the Super Bowl trophy to Brady."
In the Beck interview, Abbott also railed against NFL players who protested racial oppression last year by sitting or kneeling during the National Anthem. The protests began with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
"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."