Tales from the Trail

Obama: Still the big man on (high school) campus

If President Barack Obama ever needs a pick-me-up,  he can visit the campus of an American public high school, as he did on Tuesday at La Follette High School in Madison, Wisconsin, where he remains, indisputably, a rock star.

obama_youthShouts of joy and screams of “Obama! Obama!” greeted his motorcade as Obama pulled up and strode across the school’s sports practice fields to meet with members of its teams — the Lancers.  (Team motto: “Attitude, Character, Effort.”)

He first met with members of the girl’s volleyball team, who ran out in their uniforms and knee pads, and squealed with delight as he spoke with them and then posed for pictures.

Then it was the turn of the school’s three football teams — varsity, sophomore and freshman — who crowded in the middle of the field, in full uniforms and pads, holding their helmets and down on one knee with their coaches standing among them. The players greeted Obama with a “1-2-3 Clap.” Obama exchanged hugs with the head coach and then chatted with the players for a good 10 minutes.

He urged the boys to work hard on the field and in the classroom, and told them about his own experiences playing football, basketball and tennis. The players asked questions about Obama’s life, and also about last night’s NFL game between Obama’s hometown Chicago Bears and Wisconsin’s  Green Bay Packers. Obama dodged that bullet by underscoring his point that players should use their heads, telling the teen-aged players that the Packers had lost to the Bears largely because of mental errors, such as penalties.

What’s a friendly wager between friends, or senators?

trophyWhile Washington deals with freezing temperatures this Sunday, Super Bowl XLIV will kick off in sunny Miami Gardens, Florida, as the New Orleans Saints take on the Indianapolis Colts. But the snow has not dampened football fans’ spirits, and even a few senators are betting on the outcome.

Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Evan Bayh of Indiana announced a friendly wager on Friday, each betting that their team will bring home that coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.

What’s at stake?

Well, a win for the Saints in their first ever Super Bowl appearance means Bayh will be bringing Landrieu and her constituents Indiana popcorn, a local favorite.

Politicians score big in the NFL — campaign contributions

Politicians have hit pay dirt in the National Football League, with some teams providing far more fertile turf than others.

The San Diego Chargers haven’t been much of a powerhouse on the field during the past 20 years.

But in the game of national politics, the Chargers have been a high-stakes participant, leading the league in campaign contributions during that time frame.

Obama tests his fantasy football mettle

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.