Why do George Brett and other former athletes like Donald Trump?

On Sunday, George Brett’s Twitter account featured photographs of his dogs wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.

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In a blog post on Monday, Kansas City Star writer Pete Grathoff wondered if Brett’s support for Donald Trump was perhaps tongue in cheek (or muzzle). It wasn’t. The Hall of Fame third baseman’s conservatism is well-established. He’s friends with Rush Limbaugh, endorsed U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran in 2010 and gave money to Mitt Romney in 2012. Brett’s support of Donald Trump is as surprising as the fact that he loves golf.

A number of sports figures support Trump. In fact, he seems to have wrapped up the white ex-athlete vote. Sports author Jeff Pearlman, who is working on book about the short-lived United States Football League, wrote this tweet in May:

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Trump is a major figure in the story of the USFL. He owned a team, the New Jersey Generals, and is faulted for many of the decisions precipitating the league’s failure.

A tireless reporter, Pearlman has interviewed more than 330 people for his USFL book. (He hopes to speak to 400 before he starts writing.) Pearlman says ex-USFL players, coaches and executives he’s interviewed do not admire Trump — in fact, many of them despise him. “By the vast majority of people, he’s the No. 1 guy who is blamed for killing the league,” Pearlman says.

Yet many of these same people say they are going to vote for Trump in November.

“I have not interviewed an African-American guy from the USFL who supports Trump,” Pearlman says. “I would say almost every white guy I’ve talked to about this — even if they don’t like Trump — are supporting Trump.”

The idea of voting for a Democrat is apparently so revolting to these individuals that they would rather vote for a man felt to have played a direct role in limiting their professional opportunities.

For Pearlman, choosing to write about the USFL 30 years after the league’s demise has been like stumbling into a Trump rally. “This is like Trump’s demographic: 60-year-old, hard-working white guys who believe in the America they grew up in,” Pearlman says. “So even though they don’t like Trump for what he did to the USFL, it’s almost like they’re willing to overlook that in the name of this election.”

Pearlman finds it puzzling. He wonders why George Brett, who played professionally for 23 years, “surrounded by this rainbow cast of characters,” would want to see a divisive figure like Trump become president.

“You played with guys from all over the world,” he says. “You played with guys of different religions. So I always find it surprising, naively, when a guy like that supports a candidate like Trump. Because I feel like you have to see the value of diversity and you have to see the value of putting money into our crumbling school system or after-school programs or youth sports programs. So that always gets me a little bit, it confuses me.”

Maybe it’s Trump’s authoritarian inclinations that speak to Brett. Maybe it’s the language of winners and losers. Maybe it’s the promise of lower taxes.

Then again, trying to unpack the belief system of a man who regales others with tales of pants pooped in a casino is probably a fool’s errand.

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