Trio of NFL players intern on Capitol Hill as part of league program

Trio of NFL players intern on Capitol Hill as part of league program
© Getty Images

A trio of NFL players are spending a part of their offseason walking the halls of Congress and engaging on policy issues as part of the league's "externship" program.

The NFL offers players the opportunity to apply for placement into a congressional office to work with lawmakers on a range of policy areas and attend meetings with government officials. 

This year's participants are New York Giants safety Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints wide receiver Austin Carr and Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Ryan Hunter.


CBS News reported that Carr is working as an intern for Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGraham promises ObamaCare repeal if Trump, Republicans win in 2020 Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Rand Paul to 'limit' August activities due to health MORE (R-Ky.), noting that he shares the senator's pro-life views and some of his libertarian ideas. 

Hunter is working in the office of freshman Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyGovernment regulation of social media would kill the internet — and free speech Juan Williams: We need a backlash against Big Tech Twitter unlocks McConnell's campaign account after GOP boycott MORE (R-Mo.), CBS reported. He said he's spoken with officials about the opioid crisis and brain injuries. 

"This is fun because we're both new together," Hawley told CBS. "So Ryan's new, I'm new. We're kind of learning the ropes together."

Thomas took part in the program last year and worked in Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeJackson Lee: 'Racism is a national security threat' Most oppose cash reparations for slavery: poll Poll: Most Americans oppose reparations MORE’s (D-Texas) office. He returned this year to intern with the Texas Democrat, and told CBS that he felt his initial experience gave him a foundation for understanding the pace of government.

"I mean, it's going to take — you know, it's going to take time. Nothing happens overnight," he said. "I can see how other people can say, 'Man, like, that's slow. We need something now. We need to do something now.' And I get that passion, I feel it."

The NFL's externship program started in 2014 and matches players with professional experiences that they might be interested in as part of a post-NFL career. Players typically spend a little less than a month on Capitol Hill as part of the program.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE has personally had a fraught relationship with the NFL. While he is a fan of football, he has repeatedly criticized players who took a knee during the national anthem prior to kickoff during games.

Thomas is among the players who took a knee during the 2017 season to protest social injustice. The demonstrations almost entirely subsided in 2018.