Obama tests his fantasy football mettle

October 23, 2008

WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has made it clear he’s a sucker for ESPN’s SportsCenter, and turns out he knows a thing or two about fantasy football too.

Sportswriter Rick Reilly challenged both presidential candidates, Obama and Republican contender John McCain, to pick an NFL fantasy football team for one week to see if they had what it takes on the sports side of life.

Obama picked up the gauntlet and while he agreed to play second chair to the sports network expert, Reilly reports in his ESPN Magazine column this week that the White House hopeful had done his homework and was aggressive in a 30-minute tussle for his preferred picks for NFL Week 6. 

Reilly writes: 

He is taller, grayer and quicker to laugh than I expected. Moves sort of like an athlete—cool and smooth. “Now, you’re the expert,” he began. “And I’ll gladly be the junior partner in this, but I really think we should take Drew Brees. He could have a big week. Oakland’s secondary is a wreck.”

Ohhhh, so that’s how it’s going to be. “Well, I like Carson Palmer,” I said. “He’s due for a big week, plus he plays in Ohio and I figure that’s a state you need, so …”

He looked at me like I’d stuck my elbow in his soup. “Man, this is more important than politics!” he insisted. “This is football!”

They also picked Clinton Portis from the Washington Redskins as well as Brandon Marshall of Denver Broncos. Reilly admitted that the guys he wanted didn’t do too well during Week 6 while Brees and Portis “went nuts.” In the end, their fantasy team finished 32,190th for the week, it was in the 81.2 percentile.

Apparently only Obama agreed to the challenge, Reilly said. But McCain has made it clear football is also not far from his mind, saying at the last presidential debate how much he relished the Arizona Cardinals defeat over the Dallas Cowboys.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage

- Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama receives an autographed football from Pittsburgh Steelers coarch Mike Tomlin in August during a campaign stop)

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