Members, Cops to Recreate ‘The Longest Yard’

Posted October 28, 2005 at 5:56pm

For one night in November, an elite squad of Capitol Police officers will not be thinking about protecting Members of Congress. Rather, they’ll be focusing on tackling lawmakers.

Taking a page from the movies, the Capitol Police team (calling themselves the “guards”) has accepted a challenge from a bipartisan squad of Members (the “inmates”) to participate in a flag football game on the National Mall.

The first annual “Longest Yard Fall Classic,” which is being organized by Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), is scheduled to take place Nov. 16 at 8 p.m., or after the last votes of the day.

“It’s a way for us to say thank you to the guards and the families who have made sacrifices,” Renzi said, specifically referencing the families of Jacob Chestnut and John Gibson, Capitol Police officers who were killed in the line of duty in 1998.

All funds raised through the seven-on-seven co-ed matchup will go to the Capitol Police Memorial Fund, which was created the day after the officers’ deaths to aid their families. Members are looking to bring in a couple of big-name sponsors for the event, possibly even the National Football League, once the ethics committee grants approval.

According to Renzi, the fund currently has $40,000 and risks depletion as Chestnut’s and Gibson’s children get older. He said the goal is to raise more money for the fund as well as broaden its availability in an era of constant terrorist threats.

“Members need to get knees and elbows bloodied — [the police] are risking their lives,” Renzi said.

While the Capitol Police already have more than 100 employees signed up to play the lawmakers’ roster isn’t settled just yet.

With 17 players signed up, Renzi said they are still trying to recruit a pair of former GOP House Members from Oklahoma: Steve Largent, a Hall of Fame wide receiver, and J.C. Watts, who starred as a quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners. And Rep. Tom Osborne (R-Neb.), the former head coach of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers, will lend his football expertise as coach of the “inmates.”

“This is very exciting. We are grateful that Congressman Rick Renzi found a way to have some fun, bring our families together and honor those we’ve lost by raising money for the Capitol Police Memorial fund,” said Sgt. Jessica Gissubel, a Capitol Police spokeswoman.

David Meyers contributed to this report.