12 Richard Nixon Pro Football Moments as Ol' No. 12's Boosters Hawk Kurt Warner Pigskins

Categories: Politics, Sports

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Nixon called Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula at 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 3, 1972, to suggest the Fish use a quick slant pass play in the upcoming Super Bowl against Dallas. The press later mis-reports that Nixon designed a play for Shula.

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Coach Landry reacts to another victory.
On the eighth play of that Super Bowl, Miami runs a quick slant pass that falls incomplete. Dallas winds up winning the Jan. 14, 1972, game, 24-3. Nixon calls Cowboys coach Tom Landry after the game to compare the team to the Green Bay Packer squads of the 1960s.

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Billy Kilmer. no fan of Dick
In a Dec. 3, 1972, Washington Post Style section interview, Redskins quarterback Billy Kilmer drunkenly claims that Nixon's obsession with the team is counterproductive and coach Allen should bar the president from getting near them.

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During a Dec. 19, 1972, phone conversation recently discovered by the National Archives, President Nixon expressed his anger to Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst over NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle's blackout policy, which did not allow for any game to be televised in the city where it was played, even if the game was sold out. Nixon told his AG that lifting the blackouts should be a major policy of his administration. "The folks should be able to see the goddamn games on television," Nixon fumed. He knew Rozelle feared Congress would demand lifting blackouts on all games, even regular-season match-ups, so Nixon proposed a compromise where he would veto any legislation ending regular season blackouts in exchange for all playoff games being televised. "If you make the move, for these playoff games, we will block any--any--legislation to stop anything else," Nixon told his attorney general to tell Rozelle. "I will fight it personally and veto any--any--legislation. You can tell him that I will veto it. And we'll sustain the veto. . . . Go all out on it and tell him he's got the president's personal commitment. I'm for pro football all the way, and I think it's not in pro football's interest to allow this to build up because before you know it, they'll have the damn Congress go all the way. We don't want Congress to go all the way." Rozelle declined.

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Allen and family at the White House
Coach Allen visited the White House on Jan. 1, 1973, and Nixon promised to root for the Redskins in Super Bowl VII against Miami. He also gave Allen a pin with the presidential seal and a letter for Billy Kilmer's daughter Kathy, who suffered from cerebral palsy. No trick plays were apparently passed, however.

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The Dolphins defeated the Redskins 14-7 on Jan. 14, 1973, to end the season with a perfect 17-0 record. Dolphin fans honked their car horns as they passed a residential compound in Key Biscayne where Nixon was staying. Nixon called to congratulate Shula the next day.

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Congress in 1973 passed a law banning the NFL from blacking out any game that was sold out at least 72 hours before kickoff. The law eventually expired, but the NFL has maintained that blackout policy, which current NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell still defends. Yes, folks are able to see the goddamn games on television. 


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