Democratic and Republican lawmakers came together Tuesday night to take on the Capitol Police in a charity football game, capping a contentious day in Washington that saw House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) launch a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
But politics wasn’t part of the agenda on the gridiron as lawmakers pulled off their first victory against the police since 2009 in the biennial match-up.
“This is one of those times where Democrats and Republicans can come together, kind of put our politics aside and worry about the plays that we’re going to do out on the football field,” Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) told reporters shortly before kickoff.
Panetta was confident that the lawmakers, whose team was the Mean Machine, would be able to come together and focus on their opponents, the Guards, in a game of one-hand touch football.
He wasn’t wrong. It also didn’t hurt that the members of Congress also had a few former NFL players on their squad, like Ken Harvey, who played for the Washington Redskins before retiring.
The Mean Machine were led by co-captains Panetta and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.).
Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) was a referee.
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) — who once played for the Indianapolis Colts — was the only lawmaker to score a touchdown, giving the Mean Machine an early 6-0 lead in the first quarter.
The politicians and their ex-NFL teammates dominated the rest of the game, with an 8-4 lead at halftime and a final score of 14-4.
The Congressional Football Game is held every other year, but a spokesperson for the event said organizers hope to make it an annual tradition.
The game was first held in 2005 to honor Capitol Police officers Jacob Chestnut and Detective John Gibson, who were killed in the line of duty in 1998. Proceeds from the game go toward The Capitol Police Memorial Fund and nonprofit groups.
Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), the only female lawmaker to participate in Tuesday night’s game at Gallaudet University in Washington, said the gathering is the perfect combination of exercise and bipartisanship.
“I love it. It’s a great opportunity to exercise, and the camaraderie is fantastic. It’s one of the few bipartisan things you get to do,” Barragán said in a brief interview with The Hill. “Tonight’s a night to put politics aside, come together, unify, play for a good cause and put the Hill on the Hill and leave it there.”