Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do Any Presidential Candidates Play Fantasy Football?

Fantasy football is a $1 billion industry with nearly 27 million participants according to The Hollywood Reporter. (I’m sure that there are more detailed statistics available from Forbes, The Wall Street Journal or even ESPN out there, but this is where Google directed me.) While the growth of fantasy sports over the past decade has impacted people at most businesses, I wonder if it has reached the White House. Sure, President Obama completes NCAA tournament brackets for men’s and women’s college basketball, but I don’t think he worried about choosing between Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster or even Aaron Rodgers with the first pick of a fantasy football league draft earlier this fall (though he may have drafted Rodgers based on their meeting).

Personally, I’d find it fascinating seeing the President scan the waiver wire on Tuesday afternoon deciding whether to put in a claim to pick up Darrius Heyward-Bey or Jabar Gaffney. Would the President call Matthew Berry directly each Sunday morning asking if he/she should start Beanie Wells or C.J. Spiller? Would the President delay the start of a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in order to finalize a trade to acquire Mike Wallace? White House press conferences could end with correspondents asking the President’s thoughts on Jamaal Charles’ torn ACL. While I may be taking this question a little too far here (though I don’t think any of this would be completely unrealistic), I wonder who will be the first U.S. President to embrace fantasy sports.

While I don’t believe that any of the current Presidential candidates are active fantasy owners, I thought it would be fun to pretend that the candidates are in a league together. Please note that the candidates are in no particular order:

Mitt Romney – This is a high stakes league where Romney put up $10,000 on him winning.

Newt Gingrich – The former Speaker of the House also serves as the league’s historian.

Michele Bachmann – Selected Atlanta running back Michael Turner with her first pick so that she could name her team Bachmann Turner Overdrive. (Sorry if this sounds like a bad Chris Berman joke.)

Rick Perry – He focused his draft plan on three positions. Running back, quarterback, and the um, what’s the third one there? Oops!

Ron Paul – He could have early season success, but don’t look for Paul winning the fantasy league championship.

Jon Huntsman – Since his daughter went on a date with Kris Humphries, well before he was the former Mr. Kim Kardashian, Huntsman prefers fantasy basketball to fantasy football.

Rick Santorum – The draft must be on-line and not in person since Santorum doesn’t actually live where he claims his residency.

Herman Cain – Sure, Cain’s not a candidate anymore, but he was when the league formed in August. Cain drafted ninth and only selected players wearing the number 9. Sure, Drew Brees was a great pick, but starting #99 Brett Keisel at running back hasn’t worked very well.

Since you can’t have a league with just eight participants, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who many Republican leaders hoped would enter the Presidential race, will serve as the 9th member. I don’t have anything to write about Chris Christie, so the league also included Kris Kristofferson as the 10th member simply because it’s fun to say Chris Christie and Kris Kristofferson in the same sentence.

After I finished typing this post, I found a brief article about Obama drafting a fantasy football team in 2008 with Rick Reilly. I'm still not willing to credit Obama as the first fantasy football playing President.

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