The NFL usurped baseball as America’s Pastime ages ago, but every four years, the gridiron faces stiff competition from the blood sport that is Presidential politics. During election years the Presidential debates draw ratings that rival Super Bowl numbers. Politicians have frequently appeared on NFL broadcasts and, at times, football itself gets political. Just ask Hank Williams, who once recorded a song entitled “If the South Had Won” but is most known for singing “Are You Ready For Some Football” before each Monday Night Football broadcast. That is, until he was recently pulled from his longstanding gig after comparing President Obama to Adolph Hitler.
Now it seems football and politics are becoming even more similar. The NFL is lauded for its parity which ebbs and flows just like the America’s party politics. Each season produces several new playoff teams who were dreadful the year before. The Detroit Lions are currently undefeated and look like one of the best teams in the league, just a few years removed from going 0-16 and setting a league record for futility. This is no different from how political power shifts between the Democrats and Republicans. Twelve years of Reagan and Bush were followed by eight years of Clinton then eight more years of another Bush. The same political pundits who wrote the GOP’s obituary in 2008 are now chiseling the Democrats epitaph after the excellent Republican showing in the last midterm election cycle.
The lackluster Republican field of candidates has presented the GOP with the same difficult proposition many subpar NFL teams are faced with at this point in the season. Should they brush off the 0-4 start, and fight to win a handful of games for respectability? Or should they simply tank their primary season in order to position themselves to take Chris Christie with the number one draft pick for a 2016 run against Hilary Clinton? Give or take a few hundred pounds, Christie is just as attractive to the GOP as Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is to NFL scouts. It’s no wonder so many Republicans were depressed this week after the governor announced he was going to forego the draft and return to New Jersey for his senior year of eligibility.
Nowhere are the similarities between football and politics more pronounced than at the quarterback position. Quarterbacks are the face of the franchise and the de facto leaders of their teams. Watching Republicans panic at this stage of the season over their presidential candidates is eerily similar to NFL coaches on the hot seat fretting over their quarterback situation. Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio infamously cut his five year starter David Garrard about 72 hours before their season opener. It was as if weeks of training camp didn’t provide him enough evidence that Garrard didn’t give his team the best chance to win. It makes you wonder what the GOP was doing for the past few years as Mitt Romney took snaps running around the country giving speeches in all of the major swing states.
As Romney can attest, the backup quarterback is always the most popular guy in town. The former governor of Massachusetts can’t seem to shake off defenders or calls begging for him to scurry off to the sidelines. Despite the fact he puts up consistent numbers and probably gives them the best chance to win in November, the GOP fans are clamoring for any of the backup QBs. Well, almost anyone. The Michelle Bachmans and Herman Cains of the Republican field are good for a couple of fluke plays for touchdowns in New Hampshire and Florida but no one really believes they can lead the GOP to a Super Bowl.
Someone else who won’t be buckling their chin strap and running onto the field for the GOP is Sarah Palin. Like Tim Tebow, she is a sexy figment of the imagination for rabid fans who can’t seem to accept the fact that the best-selling author is not the starting quarterback for their team. Maybe it’s the altitude that has fans believing a third string QB will restore Denver to the glory days of John Elway. Who knows what it is that has conservatives convinced Sarah Palin would put down her lucrative Fox News clipboard to hop behind center and restore America to the halcyon days of Ronald Reagan?
Two weeks ago Tony Romo was the gutty hero who led Dallas to victory despite broken ribs and a punctured lung. This was of course forgotten after the Cowboys blew a three touchdown lead in the second half about a week later. This undoubtedly earned him the sympathy of fellow Texan Rick Perry, the signal caller who knows a little something about blowing big leads. Despite taking the field as the favorite with his team in the red zone, Perry just can’t stop throwing pick six’s to linebackers and cornerbacks. The latest revelation about his Niggerhead Rock hunting trips, along with his erratic debate performances have sent his quarterback rating plummeting and might soon result in getting him pulled from the game. If you look closely at the highlights you can actually see the Democrats celebrating in the end zone.
For years now the quarterback position has been widely regarded as the most difficult in all of professional sports. At this rate, quarterbacks will soon have to cede that title to the position of Republican presidential nominee if these candidates keep choking in the fourth quarter.
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