Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ripped the NFL for threatening not to award future Super Bowls to Houston or Dallas if the state's controversial bathroom bill is passed.
Abbott, a Republican, told conservative radio host Glenn Beck that the NFL should stay out of politics.
"The NFL is walking on thin ice right here," Abbott said Tuesday on the show. "The NFL needs to concentrate on playing football and get the heck out of politics."
Last Friday, days after Houston hosted Super Bowl LI, the NFL responded to questions about Senate Bill 6, which if passed would require people to use bathrooms that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificate. It targets transgender people and would be similar to a bill that passed in North Carolina that led to the NBA relocating the All-Star Game from Charlotte to New Orleans and the NCAA pulling seven championship events from that state last year.
"If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law (in Texas), that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email to the Houston Chronicle about the bill. "The NFL embraces inclusiveness. We want all fans to feel welcomed at our events, and NFL policies prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard."
Abbott responded Saturday to McCarthy's statement on Twitter, indicating he wasn't threatened by it and pointing to the Deflategate case which eventually led to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
"NFL decision makers also benched Tom Brady last season. It ended with NFL handing the Super Bowl trophy to Brady," Abbott tweeted.
Brady threw for a Super Bowl-record 466 yards, two touchdowns and one interception en route to the Patriots' improbable 34-28 victory in overtime over the Atlanta Falcons -- winning his fifth championship ring and record fourth Super Bowl MVP Award.
"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."
The next three Super Bowls are slated to be held in Minneapolis, Atlanta and Miami. The next opening is 2021 and the Dallas Cowboys are expected to be one of the bidders.
The NFL previously issued similar warnings about statehouse bills the league feels invites discrimination. In 2015, Georgia Republican Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a "religious liberty" bill that the NFL threatened could result in Atlanta being passed over for Super Bowls.
Abbott also blasted NFL players who protested racial oppression last season by sitting or kneeling during the national anthem. The protests began in August with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem before he decided to kneel in an effort to make his position more respectful.
"I cannot name or even count the number of Texans who told me that they were not watching the NFL," Abbott said in the Beck interview. "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."