Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL [Print without images]

Monday, November 5, 2012
Obama, Romney talk football on MNF

ESPN.com

President Barack Obama thinks his hometown Chicago Bears are good enough to win the Super Bowl this season. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney remembers that the New England Patriots won two of their three Super Bowl titles while he was governor of Massachusetts.

On the eve of the election, the two men vying for the presidency took time to share their thoughts on football in particular, sports in general and their race for the White House in separate satellite interviews with ESPN's Chris Berman, shown at halftime of Monday night's Philadelphia Eagles-New Orleans Saints game.

Obama, a passionate Chicago sports fan, said he thinks the Bears -- 7-1 on the season after beating the Tennessee Titans 51-20 on Sunday -- are Super Bowl contenders.

"Best defense in the league right now," Obama said. "You saw (Sunday's) game. (Charles) Tillman may be defensive player of the year the way he's playing." Tillman forced four fumbles Sunday.

Romney, a Detroit sports fan as a young man in Michigan, said his allegiances have changed to the Patriots after spending 40 years as a Massachusetts resident, including four as governor (January 2003-January 2007). While he was in office, the Patriots won two Super Bowl titles (Super Bowl XXXVIII over Carolina and Super Bowl XXXIX over Philadelphia). The Boston Red Sox also won the 2004 World Series, their first title since 1918.

"And I take personal full responsibility for their two Super Bowl wins, as well as the Red Sox winning the World Series," Romney said, chuckling. "Hey, look, as a governor, you get blamed for everything that goes wrong. You might as well get the credit for what goes right."

As a presidential candidate four years ago, Obama called for a college football playoff. He got some of what he wanted -- a four-team playoff will begin in 2014.

"Promises made, promises kept," he said with a laugh. "This was something I said needed to get done, and this is the kind of change you can believe in. But, I'd like to see it actually go to eight."

Romney successfully ran the 2002 Winter Olympics, having been brought in as the president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee after a bribery scandal was uncovered. He said the experience allowed him "to see the great qualities of the human spirit."

He added: "You see people who when they're pushed to their limit are able to dig extraordinary deep ... with determination, and passion, conviction, sometimes patriotism, loyalty to their teammates. It's a place where you see what is beneath the surface of an individual human being and you come away inspired."

In part because of his Olympic experience, Romney said his biggest concern in sports revolves around the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

"We've seen some of the greats in the world come down off their pedestal because of performance-enhancing drugs," he said. "We have to continue to battle that. We have to make sure our technology keeps up with the people that are trying to skirt around the law.

"But ultimately, we get the bad guys who made the mistakes," he said. "And that's going to have to change in this country. We're going to have to change the culture that says to people using performance-enhancing drugs is acceptable. It is simply not."

Obama was asked about the difficulty of repeating a title in politics, just as it is in sports.

"It's interesting. Political reporters are a lot like sports reporters," Obama said. "... You lose a game, and you're a bum. You win a game, you're a god.

"And, the truth is, just like in sports, in politics, we're all human," Obama said. "We make mistakes. Sometimes we perform well. But the key is just to stay focused on what it is that you're doing. And in sports, it's about winning championships. Interesting -- in politics, it's not winning elections. It's making sure that you're delivering for the folks who sent you."