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Brady Recognized For Pats'
Patriots QB Tom Brady attended President Bush's State of the Union address last night and was recognized for the team's community work. In Boston, gossip columnists Fee & Raposa note First Lady Laura Bush "personally invited Brady" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/21). WNBA Fever F Tamika Catchings also attended the speech by special invitation (THE DAILY).
CARD PLAYER: Chief of Staff Andrew Card appeared on NBC's "Today" show this morning and was asked by NBC's Matt Lauer, "Be honest with me now, when was Tom Brady invited to this speech?" Card replied, "He was invited before the Patriots, who I love, were successful because he is someone who recognizes that steroid use in professional athletes is not good." Lauer: "A little gamesmanship here? The two most talked about guys in New England (are) John Kerry and Tom Brady. A little bit of gamesmanship for the voters in New England?" Card: "Tom Brady was invited before John Kerry emerged from Iowa the way he emerged. Tom Brady is a terrific fellow. I'm a huge Patriots fan, so I was glad he was here" ("Today," NBC, 1/21).
REAX: Boston Globe Sunday Magazine's Charlie Pierce, on Brady's appearance at the State of the Union one day after U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) won the Iowa Caucus: "This puts Tom Brady in a tough position. He can go there and while it is an honor, you're also at least partly set decoration for a very political speech. At the same time, if you say no, you have to go down and explain it 15 times a day every day for ten days to 3,000 reporters in Houston with nothing to do. I think for his own personal peace of mind he made the right decision" ("Cold Pizza," ESPN2, 1/21).
While On The Stump, Bush
Lashes Out Against Steroids
President Bush called for a crackdown on steroids in pro sports during his State of the Union address last night. Bush: "Athletics play such an important role in our society, but unfortunately, some in professional sports are not setting much of an example. The use of performance-enhancing drugs like steroids in baseball, football and other sports is dangerous and it sends the wrong message: that there are shortcuts to accomplishment and that performance is more important than character. So tonight I call on team owners, union representatives, coaches and players to take the lead, to send the right signal, to get tough and to get rid of steroids now" (Mult., 1/21). White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Dir John Walters said that the comments "reflected [Bush's] growing concern that sports authorities, in particular [MLB], are not doing enough to eradicate the problem." Walters: "He, like other people, feels that the people who represent the sport the players and their representatives and the owners have not done what needs to be done. This is a problem that can be fixed."
REAX: MLB Senior VP/PR Rich Levin said, "We agree with the sentiments of the president" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/21). NFL VP/Communications Greg Aiello: "We agree with the president and that's why our owners and union many years ago adopted the strongest steroids program in sports, with year-round random testing and immediate suspensions for positive tests" (L.A. TIMES, 1/21). NFLPA Exec Dir Gene Upshaw: "I don't know who Bush is talking about, but he's not talking about the NFL, because we've already dealt with steroids, performance-enhancing drugs and all of that." USATF CEO Craig Masback: "I think it's especially important he focused on young athletes and that cheating by star athletes sends the wrong message. In order for America to confront this issue, it needs to be raised to a level of importance, and having the President of the United States talk about it can't help but do that" (AP, 1/20).
ANTI-DOPING: Anti-doping expert Gary Wadler said of Bush's remarks, "This is our Ben Johnson moment. This is a time for national introspection and the role sports play in our society as well as the whole issue of how performance-enhancing drug use is undermining the essence of what competitive athletics is all about." Univ. of Texas' John Hoberman said, "The fact that he says it doesn't mean that he's going to follow up with any meaningful action" (L.A. TIMES, 1/21). National Center for Drug Free Sport President Frank Uryasz: "His message was just right on" (AP, 1/20).
COMIC RELIEF: Providing commentary for NBC last night, "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart said he wished the president had also spoken out against "instant replay and artificial turf" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/21).