Capitol Police dominate lawmakers in Congressional Football Game

Capitol Police dominate lawmakers in Congressional Football Game
© U.S. Capitol Police/Twitter

The Congressional Football Game returned on Wednesday after a year off due to COVID-19, and it truly returned to normal — with the Capitol Police handily beating the lawmakers.

Established in 2004 to benefit the Capitol Police Memorial Fund, the game featured the Mean Machine, a bipartisan team of lawmakers, versus the Guards, made up of Capitol Police Officers.

For the eleventh time in 12 games since then, the Guards prevailed over the Mean Machine, this time by a final score of 26-6.

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“The score sucks, but my heart is full that we supported the police today,” said Rep. Jimmy PanettaJames Varni PanettaNational progressive group labels six lawmakers 'progressive in name only' in new report Lobbying world Capitol Police dominate lawmakers in Congressional Football Game MORE (D-Calif.), co-captain of the Mean Machine with Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisHouse passes voting rights package, setting up Senate filibuster showdown GOP attempts balancing act: Condemn Jan. 6, but not Trump McCarthy says Democrats using Jan. 6 as 'partisan political weapon' MORE (R-Ill.)

“Winning would’ve been better, but hey, those are great guys,” Davis added. 

Members of Congress were eager to get back on the field this year after a year off the gridiron at Audi Field. The last time the two sides met, in 2019, the lawmakers notched their first victory, aided by new addition Rep. Anthony Gonzales (R-Ohio), a former wide receiver at Ohio State University. 

Rep. Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsCapitol Police dominate lawmakers in Congressional Football Game The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress MORE (R-Ala.) was among those dusting off their cleats once again this year. The congressman played high school football, but he admitted to feeling rusty. He recalled throwing the game winning touchdown in 2017 — for the other team.

“Four years ago I was the starting quarterback,” Sessions said. “I threw the winning touchdown, and we lost six to nothing — pick six!”

Each year the game features former NFL players as guest coaches or team members. This year, former Arizona Cardinals player Ken Harvey coached the Mean Machine and former New York Jets defensive back John Booty coached the Guards.

Bacon remembered when Heisman trophy winning running back Herschel Walker — now running for Senate in Georgia — played in 2017. “That guy had thighs the size of my chest,” he said. “Thankfully it’s two-hand touch.”

Off the field, Panetta and Davis work closely together on the House Agriculture Committee, so the decision to co-captain the team was easy, Panetta said.

“In this line of work it’s easy to be partisan. You don’t have to do things like play football and baseball or work together. But that’s what a guy like Rodney Davis does,”  Panetta said.

“I’ve been to his district, he’s been to my district. I know his crops, he knows my crops. We have different districts, We have different politics, but we work together,” he added. 

In the first quarter, Panetta took a dive for a near-miss deflection effort. Later in the game, he pulled off the same move, this time successfully.

“I’m getting to the age where I better be careful when I’m doing that, but I’m glad I got one incomplete out of those two dives,” he said. 

The game raised over $600,000 for the Capitol Police Memorial Fund between corporate sponsorships, ticket sales and private donations, according to Panetta and Sessions. 

“We proved last year that we can win,” Panetta said. “But we benefited the Capitol Police Memorial Fund, and that’s important this year more than ever with Jan. 6.”