WASHINGTON – It was a happy mess. In rain showers and against gusts of wind, lawmakers traded their suits and ties for jerseys and cleats Wednesday night for a good cause, raising money for charity.
The game would be on rain or shine, the organizers said. Thus, despite the thunderstorm forecast, lawmakers and their families, branding support banners for some, made their way to the Watkins Recreational Field just over a mile from the Capitol.
NFL fans, most of whom were barely taller than 3 feet, also made it to the field to try to get pictures with former NFL players who shored up the strength of the Mean Machine, made up of members of Congress.
By the time DeSean Jackson, wide receiver for the Washington football team, tossed the coin to start the game, players on both side were already soaked. Not from sweat. But rain. Constant, cold, hard rain.
The Biennial Congressional Football Game for Charity had the Mean Machine up against the U.S. Capitol Police team, the Guards in an 8-on-8 touch football game.
For the third time in a row, the Guards won 14-6.
The Mean Machine, led by captains Reps. Bob Dold, R-Illinois, Jeff Deffham, R-California, and Tim Walz, D-Minn., was helped by former NFL players, including Herschel Walker.
“I’m glad nobody got hurt. Obviously as a Guard, I’m glad we won, but it’s more about the camaraderie and I really appreciated it,” James Davis, captain of the Guards and an explosive detection handler at U.S. Capitol Police, said after the game.
Given some of the same members played in the 2013 game, the Guards had only to fine tune their strategy, Davis said.
“But these guys made me a little nervous this year. I think we need to have a few more practices next time,” he said.
In fact, at halftime, when the pouring rain finally subsided, the Mean Machine was lagging by only one point, 7-6. The close score lasted through the third quarter, until the Guards, in the final quarter, scored another touchdown and extra point kick.
For Dold, this game was an opportunity to recognize the U.S. Capitol Police’s work in protecting lawmakers and to have a good time on the field.
“It was a fun game. We played hard. The Capitol Police are always tough,” Dold said after the game.
The charity event raised $15,000 for three organizations. The Capitol Police Memorial Fund, the Our Military Kids, and A Advantage 4 Kids charities each received a check for $5,000.
“We’re out here raising money for charity, which is awesome. And an opportunity where you get Republicans and Democrats together for a good cause and true bipartisanship,” Dold said.
The event also involved a Youth Clinic run for the USA Football’s Heads Up Football program that seeks to inculcate more player safety in football.
Former NFL player Fred Baxter, one of the NFL ambassadors, said the youth clinic taught children about safer tackling techniques, controlling obesity and how to pursue healthy lifestyles and sports as a career.
“It’s a good opportunity to talk about how football changed our lives,” Baxter, who was playing on the Mean Machine team, said.
The former NFL players, including Gary Clark and Donna Wilkinson of the DC Divas women’s team, among others, also shared bonding time with lawmakers.
“We had an opportunity to spend some time with John Booty, Ken Harvey, and they were fantastic,” Dold said. “We’ll be back next time as well.”
Reach reporter Kelvin Suddason at email@example.com or 202-408-1494.