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Roll Call

Senate Flag Football Season Wraps Up in Dramatic Fashion

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call
Senate staffers get together on weekends for flag football. This year’s league champion is the Fun Boy Football team.

It was a game worthy of a Super Bowl finish. 

Down by 8 points with seconds to go in the championship game of the Senate Flag Football League, Fun Boy Football ran a Joan of Arc miracle play — first cousin to the Hail Mary — finding Helen Dwight in the end zone as time expired.

And the team didn’t even have to go for 2 points to tie it up. (To encourage women to participate, a touchdown scored by a female player is worth 9 points rather than 6 points.)

Final score: 29-28.

“Victorious,” was how Dwight, a health legislative assistant for Rep. Charles Bass (R-N.H.), described her clock-defying, game-winning touchdown for Fun Boy Football, an eclectic group of New Hampshire natives and staffers who defeated the Copper Kings, staffers for the Montana delegation.

The league is the brainchild of Hill staffer Patrick Day, who launched it three years ago. Then a staffer in the office of Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), Day and his colleagues were finishing up their softball season with no other sports prospects in sight.

They had heard of the Cannon flag football league, but colleges divided those teams up. They wanted to play by office. Finally, someone walked into Day’s office and said, “Are you going to put this league together or not?”

Day reached out to the other Senate softball coaches to see whether there was interest in putting a league together.

It got off to a bumpy start.

“When you have people who ask questions for a living, even a recreational sport ends up taking a lot of time,” Day said. But eventually 19 teams were out on the National Mall, playing each other in games that lasted for no longer than an hour.

The league is made up mostly of Senate office teams. Organizers try to keep it to the offices, the Senate Help Desk and a couple of outside organizations, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

It can get competitive. Standing on the sidelines, spectators are likely to hear  some cursing, some dressing down of teammates and, of course, the obligatory complaining about the officials.

Not much different than the NFL. Or  the Senate.

Day, now in the office of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), said part of his job as the commissioner is to keep track of who wins and who loses. But another part is making sure the league is competitive and friendly.

“We all work together at some point,” he said. “You don’t want to get into a fight with somebody who you are going to see at work the next day and do business with.”

Still, that competitive spirit was alive and well this past weekend, as the league’s 12 playoff teams squared off for the right to advance to the title game. 

With the season on the line, a dropped pass, a missed block or a slip by a ball carrier prompted moans and head shakes from several players. But the desire for a good time outweighed the urge to leave the field victorious. 

When asked why he joined the league, Tony McClain, a legislative assistant for Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), said, “competing with colleagues and having a good time outside the office.”

“I love football,” said Veronica Duron, a legislative correspondent for Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who didn’t let her office’s lack of participation in the league get in the way of her gridiron fun. Through a friend, she landed a spot on the Senate Help Desk team. Each team is required to have three female players.

The season ended in spectacular fashion, but the league’s future is cloudy. Logistics, personnel turnover and the busy schedules of those involved are key obstacles, Day said. 

Still, the commissioner is hoping to declare game on for next season. 

“The intention right now is to do it next year,” Day said. 

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