NO PULLING PUNCHES
A former boxer, the 77-year-old Republican Senator from Arizona is a huge sports fan. He took great pride in cheering for Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, who, as an Army Ranger, was killed in 2004 by friendly fire.
DAN PATRICK:Were you an athlete growing up?
JOHN MCCAIN: I played them all, but not very well. I was on the wrestling team at the Naval Academy. I was pinned in some of the nicest gyms in the East. I boxed Golden Gloves. I was defeated on several occasions.
DP:So you were a fighter?
JM: It helped when I was in prison that I had taken a few punches.
DP:You were a prisoner of war for 5½ years. Describe the conditions.
JM: Very rough most of the time. I was in solitary confinement for nearly three years.
DP:No communication at all?
JM: We tapped to each other on the wall using a simple tap code. You can tap almost as fast as you can talk. What was a big topic? Sports. The guy next to me, his favorite athlete was Stan Musial. Ted Williams was mine. [When] new prisoners came, the first thing we wanted to know was who won the Super Bowl.
DP:Do you think Pat Tillman belongs in the Hall of Fame?
JM: I think it'd be a suitable honor. It's one of these stories that makes you proud and sad. Some of us questioned the depiction of what happened to him early on.
DP:Why didn't we get answers?
JM: They covered it up.
JM: It was an embarrassment, propaganda. But his legacy goes on.
DP:What do you think of what happened with Donald Sterling?
JM: Unacceptable. Racist. I'm glad [the NBA banned him]. End of story.
DP:Do you think the NBA's action could spur the NFL to act on Redskins owner Daniel Snyder for not changing his team's name?
JM: I'm not sure I connect the two. If I were him, I would sit down with Native American leaders. If they think it's offensive and terrible ... frankly, I would change the name.
DP:What role does government play in sports?
JM: As little as possible. But when it comes to the use of PEDs, I think the federal government has to be involved. When I was playing linebacker in high school, if some guy had come up to me and said, "Take this and you can play in the NFL," I would have said, "Where do I take it? Give it to me."
DP:Do you have a fantasy football team?
JM: Some of us [senators] do.... The day [receiver] Anquan Boldin left the Cardinals was the worst. Then teams could focus on Larry Fitzgerald.
DP:Couldn't you have stepped in as senator?
JM: Absolutely. Because I am an expert. I don't know why I didn't think of that.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees had a warning for QBs drafted by losing teams. "The competitor in you thinks you have to fix all these problems," he said. "You start to press a little bit, put too much pressure on yourself, and it makes things worse. I've done that at certain points of my career." ... Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire told me he would rather have gone to Europe than to college. "So many coaches in America, if you're 6'8", 6'9", you're going to play power forward or center," said Stoudemire. "In Europe, if you have skills, they let you develop your skills. You're going to become the player you want to become." ... TNT's Charles Barkley, on Donald Sterling: "He's going to have to sell the team, or the players are not going to play. I know these players pretty well. The NBA is not going to let Donald Sterling own the team next year or there will not be a single game."