Heard on the Hill

HOH presents: the ultimate congressional fantasy football juggernaut

Here are the current and former members of Congress who would dominate

 Then-Rep. Jon Runyan, R- N.J. left, blocks for the “Mean Machine” team at the Congressional Football Game for Charity, which pits congressmen against police, in 2011. In the background is then-Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Have you ever wondered which current or former members of Congress would make the ideal fantasy football team? Well, we’ve got you covered.

For hardcore football fans, playing fantasy can be an exercise in cognitive dissonance. If you are a Baltimore Ravens fan who has Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, you have to pray the Steelers QB throws four TDs while the rest of the team plays like garbage. But there is no better feeling than agonizing over setting the perfect lineup and then watching your team light up your enemy, er, opponent. And for perhaps the ultimate in cognitive dissonance, Heard on the Hill presents the All-Congress fantasy football team.

osborne092801 -- Tom Osborne during his coaching days at Nebraska.
Tom Osborne during his coaching days at Nebraska. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Coach/Manager: Rep. Tom Osborne. There was perhaps no bigger football juggernaut in the 1990s than the University of Nebraska. Osborne led a Cornhusker dynasty, winning three national titles between 1994 and 1997. The Republican parlayed that into three terms in Congress (2001-2007).

Offense

Representative Jack Kemp of the Buffalo Bills plays catch with tennis champion Martina Navratilova of Czechoslovakia. (Photo by Mickey Senko/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Jack Kemp plays catch with tennis champion Martina Navratilova. (Mickey Senko/CQ Roll Call)

QB: Rep. Jack Kemp. The 1996 Republican vice presidential nominee and supply-side economics cheerleader led the Buffalo Bills to two American Football League Championships in 1964 and 1965. (The AFL became the American Football Conference when it merged with the NFL in 1970.) Kemp earned AFL Most Valuable Player in 1965 and used his visible hand (get it?) to throw 114 career TDs.

UNITED STATES - MAY 26: Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is interviewed by CQ Roll Call in his Hart Building office, May 26, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

RB: Sen. Tim Scott. The Republican junior senator from South Carolina attended Presbyterian College on a partial football scholarship before a knee injury sidelined his career. Despite his injury history, the senator looks like he would be a problem between the tackles and a challenge for any linebacker attempting to bring him down.

Largent(TW)091300 --Steve Largent finishes the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association Capital Challenge.
Steve Largent finishes the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association Capital Challenge. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

WR: Rep. Steve Largent. Before walking the halls of Congress, the Oklahoma Republican was on his way to enshrinement in a different hall, the Pro Football Hall of Fame. With 100 touchdowns and more than 13,000 receiving yards, Largent is the greatest football player to ever serve in Congress. The seven-time Pro Bowler for the Seattle Seahawks is also a member of the 1980s All-Decade team. His number 80 jersey was retired by the Seahawks.

WR: Rep. LaVern Dilweg. The one-term Democrat from Wisconsin was a three-time NFL champion with the Green Bay Packers and a member of the 1920s All-Decade team.

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 30: Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, attends a House Financial Services Committee organizational meeting in Rayburn Building on Wednesday, January 30, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

WR: Rep. Anthony Gonzalez. A standout at THE Ohio State University and the Indianapolis Colts, the Republican’s blazing 4.44 second 40-yard dash should help any team rack up yards from the slot position.

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 16: Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., runs from the Senate subway to the Capitol as the Senate holds a vote on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., runs from the Senate subway to the Capitol as the Senate holds a vote on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

TE: Sen. Cory Booker. The peak of Booker’s Stanford University career happened on an October day against then-No. 1 ranked Notre Dame, he told the Philadelphia Inquirer last year. The New Jersey Democrat and presidential candidate caught a pass, juked an All-American defensive back, and turned upfield for a first down on a key scoring drive that helped the Cardinal knock off the rival Irish.

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 29: Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, becomes emotional during an opening statement at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building on whether Planned Parenthood Federation of America should be federally funded, September 29, 2015. In the statement, he recalled his mother's battle with cancer and his wife's work with the disease. PPFA President Cecile Richards, testified. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
 Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

K: Rep. Jason Chaffetz. The former chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee was also the starting kicker at Brigham Young University. The Utah Republican even holds the school record for most PATs (points after touchdown) in a single game, with 10. He performed the feat on Nov. 18, 1989, in BYU’s big rivalry game with Utah, known as the “Holy War.”

UNITED STATES - JUNE 21: Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J., is photographed in his Longworth office. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call)
Jon Runyan, R-N.J. (Tom Williams/Roll Call)

OT: Rep. Jon Runyan. Offensive line is not a fantasy position but with the former Philadelphia Eagles star and New Jersey Republican anchoring the O-line, your running game is in good hands. “He plays the game at a high level. He’s a nasty player,” former Tennessee Titans defensive back Courtland Finnegan told ESPN.com in 2008. He described facing the 6’ 7”, 330-pound Runyan on a screen play as his “nightmare scenario.”

Defense

A picture of former president Gerald Ford posing on the football field at the University of Michigan in 1933, is on display at the National Archives.
A picture of former president Gerald Ford posing on the football field at the University of Michigan in 1933, is on display at the National Archives. (CQ Roll Call)

LB: Rep. Gerald R. Ford. Before he was the 38th president or House minority leader, “Jerry” Ford was a standout for the University of Michigan Wolverines, leading the team to two undefeated seasons and back-to-back national titles in 1932 and 1933.

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 9: Rep. Colin Allred, D-Texas, arrives to participate in the weekly caucus press conference in the Capitol on Wed. Jan. 9, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Colin Allred, D-Texas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

LB: Rep. Colin Allred. The Texas Democrat was a linebacker for the Tennessee Titans before becoming a lawyer and serving in the Obama administration.

UNITED STATES - APRIL 25: Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., speaks with Roll Call in his office in the Russell Senate Office Building on Tuesday, April 25, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

LB: Sen. Cory Gardner. The Colorado Republican was a two-way player for his Yuma High School. This would lead to some controversy during his 2014 campaign, when Deadspin claimed Gardner was making up this part of his biography. Gardner produced photos from his playing days and Deadspin retracted the story.

UNITED STATES - August 17: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., throws a football with children during a Family Night event at Dean Park in Ankeny, Iowa, Monday, August 17, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

CB: Sen. Marco Rubio. The former defensive back makes no secret of his love for football, frequently tweeting about his hometown Miami Dolphins. At 5’10”, the Republican doesn’t have much of an imposing presence but could be a ball hawk who gets interceptions.

Bench

Every fantasy team needs backup, and because elected office tends to attract leaders, there’s no shortage of quarterbacks to choose from.

Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., conducts throwing drills during a flag football practice on the Mall, Oct. 8, 2009, in preparation for the upcoming game in which congressmen square off against the Capitol Police.
Heath Shuler, D-N.C., conducts throwing drills during a flag football practice on the Mall, Oct. 8, 2009, in preparation for the game in which congressmen square off against the Capitol Police. (CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Heath Shuler. The University of Tennessee standout was the 1993 SEC Player of the Year and runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. He was taken third overall in the 1994 NFL draft and enjoyed a career that included a stint with the Washington Redskins. Elected from North Carolina in 2006, the Democrat retired in 2013.

watts3/121802 - Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Ok., at a book store in Union Station siging his new book, "What Color is a Conservative?".
J.C. Watts, R-Okla., at a book store in Union Station in 2002 signing his book, “What Color is a Conservative?” (CQ Roll Call)

Rep. J.C. Watts. A starter for the Oklahoma Sooners, Watts led the team to two Orange Bowl victories before playing several seasons in the Canadian Football League. He was first elected in the 1994 GOP wave and rose through the leadership ranks before retiring in 2003.

Inmate Tim Ryan throws on the run during a driving rainstorm at the "Longest Yard Football Classic" played at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Tim Ryan throws on the run during a driving rainstorm at the “Longest Yard Football Classic” played at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. (CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Tim Ryan. The Democratic presidential contender earned a scholarship to play at Youngstown State in Ohio before an injury derailed his career.

UNITED STATES - MARCH 14: Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., talks on his phone as he walks along the Senate steps before the vote on legislation to reverse President Trump's national emergency declaration concerning the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday, March 14, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W. Va. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Joe Manchin III. The West Virginia University signal caller is another athlete whose career was cut short by injury. But the Democrat brings something else to the table: His childhood friend Nick Saban, the six-time national title winning coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Can’t hurt to have that type of strategist in your corner.

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