Heading into Wednesday's Congressional Football Game for Charity at Watkins Recreation Field, members of Congress are preparing to put partisan politics aside as they team up with former NFL players against the Capitol Police.
"This is one of the true times when you actually have Republicans and Democrats not only working together, but building relationships together," said Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., one of three captains for "Mean Machine," after one of the team's final practices. "The Guards" lead the series, 4-1-1. The law enforcement squad clinched The Longest Yard trophy in 2013, with a 39-24 victory.
A head-to-head comparison shows Capitol Police hold most of the advantages, including a day job that requires they stay in prime physical shape. Congress also suffered some talent turnover.
Former Brown University tight end Steve Martinko, who caught touchdown passes for Congress as a top aide to House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., will be on the sidelines this year. The government affairs counselor for K&L Gates, who left the Hill in 2014 , is now a coach.
One draw for spectators: seeing members of Congress get roughed up during the competitive touch football game.
The members' quarterback, Rep. Robert J. Dold, R-Ill., acknowledged the cops boast more field experience and physical prowess. "We've been practicing for about six weeks — the Capitol Police have been practicing for two years," Dold said.
But members bring the deeper bench, plus an enthusiastic canine mascot.
When the game kicks off at 7:20 p.m., Denham's 3-year-old French bulldog, Lily, will be on the sidelines for the underdogs. "She gets very excited," Denham said after one of the team's final practices.
Tickets will be available at the gate (420 12th St. SE) for $10.
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