Last week on Washington’s Gallaudet University campus, a matchup between former NFL players, members of Congress, and U.S. Capitol Police occurred in a friendly game of football.
The Congressional Football Game started in 2004. This year marked the 10th game played, as it occurs every other year (as to not compete with an election year). Though it is not as well attended as the more famous Congressional Baseball Game, the athleticism on the field surpassed the baseball game.
On one team are members of Congress and former NFL players, coined the “Mean Machine.” On the other team is the U.S. Capitol Police force, named “The Guards.”
The nicknames come from the movie “The Longest Yard.”
The Mean Machine was captained by Congressman Rodney Davis, an Illinois Republican; and Jimmy Panetta, a California Democrat. More than 30 Congressmen played on this year’s team, including former NFL players Ohio Republican Anthony Gonzalez and Texas Democrat Colin Allred.
The NFL player roster included John Booty, Ravin Caldwell, Gary Clark, Ken Harvey, Darnerien McCants, Santana Moss, Fred Smoot, Shawn Springs, Herschel Walker and Marvin Washington.
The teams’ coaches were Booty and Harvey. Booty is a former NFL defensive back from 1988 to 1995 for the New Yorks Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Phoenix Cardinals, New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Harvey is a former Washington Redskins linebacker and was selected in the first round with the 12th overall pick of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals.
One member of The Guards you may recognize is David Bailey, who is a recipient of the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery for his life-saving work when a gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers practicing for the 2017 Congressional Baseball Game.
The charities supported through the Congressional Football Game include the “Capitol Police Memorial Fund,” which helps families of fallen or injured officers. “Our Military Kids” supports military kids by providing recreational activities while their parents are deployed. “A Advantage 4 Kids” provides housing, medical, and educational assistance to special needs youth.
In total, the 2019 game raised more than $300,000 for these charities.
Even though this year’s game occurred the same day as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, the bipartisanship on the field wasn’t deterred.
There is a congressional game for just about every sport these days. The games are good for charity and bipartisanship and give lawmakers an opportunity to relive their glory days.
Coach Harvey said in a WJLA interview, “I mean, people you would think are polar opposites, Republicans and Democrats, you see them walking around and talking to each other and being friends. And that’s kinda the nature of football, right? You can’t win a game with just offense or just defense. Ultimately, the team has to come together to win the game.”
So, who won? After four consecutive losses to The Guards, the Mean Machine pulled out a 14-4 score. I can’t help but think having former NFL players on the team helped a smidge.
Editor’s note: Seymour Klierly writes Washington Whispers for the Journal from inside the Beltway.