Sunday Political Brunch: The Intersection of Sports and Politics - February 4, 2018


CHARLESTON, WV – Let’s put politics to rest and talk football this Super Bowl Sunday; and, on occasion, let's see where politics and football intersect.

“Hail to the Center” – No occupant of the White House has ever played in the NFL, let alone a Super Bowl, but President Gerald Ford came the closest (photo above). Ford was an All-American Center at the University of Michigan. Ford was offered NFL contracts with the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions, but decided to go to Yale Law School instead. Ford did play on a team of College All-Stars against the Chicago Bears in 1935.

“A Close Second” – Jack Kemp, 1996 Republican Vice Presidential nominee, was an NFL Quarterback for the New York Giants, but did not get to play in the 1957 NFL Championship. He also played with the San Diego Chargers and the Buffalo Bills in the old AFL, playing in five AFL Championship games, winning in 1965 and taking home the MVP trophy.

“The NFL in Congress” – Several NFL players later turned to politics and won seats in Congress. They include Steve Largent, of the Seattle Seahawks; Heath Schuler, of the Washington Redskins and the New Orleans Saints; and Jon Runyan, of the Philadelphia Eagles. Canadian football star J.C. Watts represented Oklahoma in Congress for eight years.

“Here Comes the Judge” – Alan Page was one of the greatest Defensive Linemen in NFL history. He went to law school in the off-seasons and is currently a member of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Page played in four Super Bowls and lost them all.

“Here Comes the Justice” – In college and in the NFL, he was known as Byron “Whizzer” White, and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. In Washington, DC, they called him Justice Byron White, the only NFL player to ever serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. He was also Deputy Attorney General to Robert F. Kennedy, and also administered the Oath of Office to Vice President Al Gore.

“That’s Quite a Class” – New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will be coaching his eigth Super Bowl team this year. Belichick is a 1971 graduate of the prestigious Phillips Academy Andover. His classmates included former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL), a candidate for President in 2016, and former Governor Lincoln Chafee (D-RI), also a candidate for President in 2016. Patriots executive Ernie Adams was also in that class. At one of his White House Super Bowl receptions, Belichick posed with President George W. Bush, who graduated from the same prep school in 1964.

“Geography Bee” – Many people around the Unites States believe the New England Patriots play in Boston, but they don’t. After many years as the Boston Patriots, they moved to Foxboro, Massachusetts, which is actually closer to Providence than it is to Boston. Go Pats!

“Player; Coach; and Congressman” – Tom Osborne had quite a career. After graduating from Hastings College in Nebraska, he went on to play in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers and the Washington Redskins. Later he would be one of the most successful coaches in college football history, winning three national championships at the University of Nebraska. While that’s enough of a career for one lifetime, Osborne turned to politics, winning three terms in Congress before retiring in 2007.

“My Family Connection to Super Bowl 52” – I admit I’ll be cheering for Phialdelphia Eagles Tight End Zach Ertz, whom I predicted ten years ago would be a major star. Ertz was an all-state wide receiver at Monte Vista High School, in Danville, CA. My daughter Alexandra Curtis was a classmate and one of the cheerleaders for that team. Ertz was a giant in high school. You just knew he’d be in the end zone, standing head and shoulders above the other players, catching a lot of touchdowns. He was amazing, and I predicted him to be a major college star (at Stanford), and then the NFL. He’s a fine young man! I hope he wins!

Who is your favorite athlete-politician? Just click the comment button at

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is a nationally-known Political Analyst. He is currently Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, including extensive TV market penetration in Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC.

© 2018, Mark Curtis Media, LLC. (With material revised from pervious Super Bowl weekend columns since 2011).

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

Thanks for bringing The Intersection of Sports and Politics as the topic this time. I was talking to how much influenced our sports are due to political pressure. We've seen it countless times in all the different sports.

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