Friday, July 26, 2019

Ex-NFL players Anthony Gonzalez and Colin Allred form a bipartisan team in Congress

Updated Jul 25, 4:47 PM; Posted Jul 25, 3:30 PM

U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Rocky River, left, during his days with the Indianapolis Colts, is pictured beside U.S. Rep. Colin Allred of Texas, during a Tennessee Titans game.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - They played on rival teams in the National Football League. They’re members of rival political parties in the U.S. House of Representatives.
But freshman Congress members Anthony Gonzalez and Colin Allred are hoping their sports background can help them bridge the partisan divide and find common ground on matters like veterans issues, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, and securing help for people with the sorts of traumatic brain injuries that plague NFL players.
The pair will publicly kick off their bipartisanship effort on Aug 1, when Allred, a Texas Democrat, will hold a joint town hall meeting in Wadsworth with Rocky River Republican Gonzalez. The meeting will be at 5 p.m. in the city’s council chambers. They also plan to tour a manufacturing facility in Strongsville and sample the goods at Fat Heads Brewery. Gonzalez plans to visit Allred’s district next year.

“I want to, hopefully, set a little bit of an example of bipartisanship, that we’re not as far apart as we think we are, that we’re not as different as you see in cable news, or in the national coverage,” says Allred. “This may be more valuable now than ever.”
“We came into this with the notion of let’s actually work together to solve problems instead of talking past each other all day,” says Gonzalez. “And obviously we have a common background on the football side, and a common respect there.”
Allred, a former Tennessee Titans linebacker, was raised by a single mother in North Dallas and won a full-ride football scholarship to Baylor University. He spent five seasons in the NFL before a neck injury ended his career. He went to law school at the University of California Berkeley, and subsequently worked in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s general counsel’s office during the administration of President Barack Obama.
Gonzalez, a former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver, was a football standout at Cleveland’s St. Ignatius High School and won a football scholarship to Ohio State University. When injuries ended his football career, he got an MBA at Stanford University.

Anthony Gonzalez, a Rocky River Republican, and Colin Allred, a Texas Democrat, discuss Allred's upcoming trip to Gonzalez' Ohio congressional district.
Both are new parents of infant sons and sport the same haircut.
The pair say that football has a fair amount in common with being a Congress member.
“On the campaign side, it’s very competitive, obviously, and if you’re a competitor and have a competitive background, I think the campaigning can come naturally,” says Gonzalez.
Allred calls football “the ultimate team sport” and notes that each player does things to help the team win that he may not get credit for. He says he believes everybody who serves in a legislative body should have to play team sports.
“When you walk into any locker room in the NFL or college, you’re going to encounter the entire swathe of the American experience in that locker room and you’ve got to find a way to work together towards a common goal,” says Allred. “I think that training is invaluable for being in a legislative body where we all come from different places, with different backgrounds, different ideologies, but we should, and I think we do, share a common goal around what’s best for the country.”
The pair still have their differences. Allred jokes that he hated Gonzalez’ quarterback on the Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning, “although he is a great player.” Gonzalez, who gets campaign donations from Manning, said he loves him.

While they were active in the NFL at the same time, Gonzalez believes they never actually faced off against each other due to games they missed because of injuries.
“We would get the scouting reports every week in these big binders, and I remember reading about Colin in the scouting reports and watching him play from my injured position on the sideline,” says Gonzalez.
“Anthony was a very high draft pick and they had a high-powered offense,” recalls Allred. “So we knew all about their offense and we actually signed a bunch of guys on our team from the Colts."
“To steal our signals,” Gonzalez interjects.
Gonzalez said he hopes his collaboration with Allred will “model to people what it looks like to disagree, but do it in a way that’s civil and productive.”
“We feel differently about a lot of issues,” says Gonzalez. “That doesn’t change the fact that I have an unbelievable amount of respect and appreciation for the work that Colin does.”
“If we can help make anything work a little better around here, then that’ll be worth it,” Allred agrees.
Click here to obtain free tickets for Gonzalez’ town hall meeting with Allred. Due to space restrictions, a limited number are available.

Popular Posts