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Richard Nixon And Vince Lombardi

September 21, 2019

Rarely do sports enter into the blog posts at Caffeinated Politics.  The one thing I recall from living only about an hour from Lambeau Field in the 1980’s was the running joke at the radio station about one of the players at that time with all sorts of personal problems off the field and a lack of catching ability on the field.  “If only the football had a g-string he could catch the ball!”

That is the only thing I recall about the Green Bay Packers from my time at WDOR.  But when I ran across the following photo of Richard Nixon and then again read about his political interest in Vince Lombardi, I just had to do a sports post.

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As vice president, Nixon made no secret of his delight in rubbing shoulders with renowned football coaches like Woody Hayes of Ohio State, whose support he credited for helping him carry Ohio in the 1960 election against John F. Kennedy. During his wilderness years as a New York lawyer, Nixon analyzed football plays with Y. A. Tittle and Andy Robustelli over cocktails at the apartment of their Giants teammate Frank Gifford.

When Nixon ran for president a second time, in 1968, he quietly pondered recruiting the Green Bay Packers’ Vince Lombardi for his ticket — until his campaign manager (and later attorney general) John Mitchell discovered that Lombardi was a Democrat.

As the leader of a country riven by the Vietnam War, Nixon employed his passion for pro football — he enjoyed an impressive and detailed knowledge of the game (he had the same command of baseball) — to pit his political followers, whom he branded the Silent Majority, against the antiwar left. When a Moratorium March against the war was announced for Washington in November 1969, the president announced that he would not “be affected whatever by it.” Instead, the White House said, he would be home watching televised football, enjoying the patriotic pageants staged during halftime.

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