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October 31, 2000|LARRY STEWART

What: "NFL Films Presents--Politics & Football"

Where: ESPN2, today, 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

As election day nears, NFL Films tackles the topic of football and politics in an excellent two-part special for its weekly "NFL Films Presents" series. Part I was shown on ESPN Monday and will be repeated on ESPN2 twice today and again Friday at 4:30 p.m. Part II will be televised the week of Nov. 13 on ESPN and ESPN2. It will feature David Maraniss, author of "When Pride Still Mattered: a Life of Vince Lombardi," and a surprise guest.

For Part I, NFL Films President Steve Sabol sat down separately with talk-show host Rush Limbaugh and NBC's "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert.

There is also a segment on presidents and their involvement in football. It's pointed out Teddy Roosevelt had the most direct effect of any president. In 1905, because of the game's violence, Roosevelt threatened to ban football unless it could clean up its act. As a result, the flying wedge was outlawed and the forward pass was added as a legal play, and Notre Dame Coach Knute Rockne popularized it two decades later.

Red Grange is shown talking about the time he and George Halas met with Calvin Coolidge, who was told Grange and Halas were "with the Chicago Bears." According to Grange, Coolidge said: "I've always liked animal acts."

Richard Nixon, who played football at Whittier College and delivered the eulogy at Woody Hayes' funeral, is shown making a postgame visit to the New York Giants' locker room. He tells an interviewer, "If I could come back in a second life, I'd come back as a sportswriter."

Ronald Reagan, who played football at Eureka College in Illinois, and Gerald Ford, a starting center at Michigan, are also part of the special.

Sabol asks Limbaugh and Russert if a president is more like a quarterback or a coach. Limbaugh says coach, and Russert, after asking how Limbaugh answered the question, says quarterback.

Sabol concludes his interview with Limbaugh by asking him to do an impersonation of Howard Cosell. Limbaugh does a great Cosell.

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