U.S. Capitol Police Special Agent David J. Bailey prepares for another play. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)
U.S. Capitol Police Special Agent David J. Bailey prepares for another play. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

The annual Congressional Football Game between teams composed of elected politicians and law enforcement officers who protect them – even a smattering of former professional players – illustrates the bonds of friendship that exist between the two camps who participate to support charities based in the greater Washington area. 

The gridiron match between the Mean Machine, consisting of both Democratic and Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives and former NFL players and The Guards, employees of the U.S. Capitol Police force, took place on Sept. 21 at Audi Field in Southwest. 

Ken Harvey, a former Washington football team outside linebacker, coached the Mean Machine while John Booty, a retired defensive back and former player with the New York Jets, coached The Guards. 

Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) served as the captains of the Mean Machine. Across the field, officers Chad Nieto, Larry Bell, Ron Potter and James Davis co-captained The Guards.

This year’s match served as the 13th showdown in a series that began as a biannual event before its transition to a yearly contest. Event officials announced the game raised over $400,000 for charities that include: the United States Capitol Memorial Fund, Our Military Kids and the Boys & Girls Clubs. 

Sponsors for the game included: the National Football League, Amazon, the National Association of Realtors, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the Congressional Federal Credit Union and the Washington Commanders. 

Washington Commanders Team President Jason Wright, a former NFL player, attended the game.

David J. Bailey: An Example of Courage

David J. Bailey works as a special agent for the U.S. Capitol Police in the security detail of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the House Minority Whip. Bailey made national headlines on June 14, 2017, when he thwarted an assassination attempt on Scalise at a Republican practice for the Congressional Baseball Game at the Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Va. 

Despite his injuries, Bailey threw out the ceremonial first pitch one day later at the Congressional Baseball Game, held at Nationals Stadium in Southeast. Later that year, on July 28, he and his colleague, Crystal Griner, who also stepped forward to end the shooting rampage, received the U.S. Medal of Valor from President Trump.

Bailey received assistance from the Capitol Police Memorial fund while recovering from his injuries. 

“After the shooting, I was out of work for about nine months,” he said. “I wasn’t able to fulfill my duties on the Dignitary Protection Division, so I didn’t receive overtime pay. It was the Capitol Police Memorial Fund that filled the void and helped my family survive while I was recovering and gave me peace of mind.” 

Bailey said he continues to play in the game because “of the camaraderie and to help the kids.” 

“I love this game. It is a lot of fun. It is good to get away from The Hill with everybody working for a common cause,” said Bailey who had more reason to celebrate after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter of the game on a pass from quarterback and colleague Reggie Tyson. 

The Guards emerged victorious, defeating The Mean Machine 19-8.

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), who has played in the game since coming to Capitol Hill in 2021, said he had a great time even in defeat. 

“It is great to get off of The Hill,” he said. “People who can’t agree even on simple things can get together and play a game. We had fun and it was great to get together. I just wish we would have won.”

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James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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