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Donald Trump needles NFL for treatment of concussed players

Donald Trump criticized "softer NFL rules" regarding concussions during a campaign stop in Lakeland, Florida, on Wednesday.

The Republican presidential nominee said he was struck by the toughness of a woman who fainted and then returned to the audience, according to multiple reports.

"The woman was out cold, and now she's coming back," Trump told the crowd. "See? We don't go by these new and very much softer NFL rules. Concussion, oh! Oh! Got a little ding on the head, no, no, you can't play for the rest of the season. Our people are tough!"

Thirty-five players have been listed on injury reports for concussions this season, and eight have been placed on injured reserve. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and the Arizona Cardinals' Carson Palmer each missed Week 5 after suffering concussions the previous week.

Reached by ESPN, the NFL declined to comment on Trump's remark.

This isn't the first time Trump has taken a shot at the NFL. In January, Trump lamented the number of penalties being called for head-on-head collisions.

"You used to see these tackles, and it was incredible to watch," Trump said at a campaign event in Nevada. "Now they tackle -- 'Oh, head-on-head collision, 15 yards' -- the whole game is all screwed up. You say, 'Wow, what a tackle.' Bing. Flag. Football's become soft. Football has become soft."

The NFL has cracked down on hits to the head amid a lawsuit over head injuries that resulted in a $1 billion settlement with former players in April 2015. Some former players have asked the Supreme Court to block the settlement because of how it treats current brain injuries versus future ones.

Research, including studies by Dr. Bennet Omalu, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University, has shown a connection between head trauma and the onset of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease found posthumously in players such as Junior Seau and Dave Duerson.

Trump has also come under fire from a number of athletes for his depiction of "locker room talk." He used the defense leading up to and during a presidential debate Sunday following the release of a 2005 video showing Trump making crude and predatory comments about women.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.