WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Sunday said the NFL should consider how referees can control game footballs instead of individual teams and he defended his aggressive stance with congressional Republicans during a live interview during NBC’s Super Bowl pregame show.
The Obama interview mixed a discussion of the game’s high-profile controversy — deflated footballs — with a brief discussion of politics. But the president ducked picking between possible 2016 Democratic presidential contenders Joe Biden and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“Love ’em both,” Obama said with a smile.
Obama also wouldn’t pick a favorite in the Patriots’ Super Bowl XLIX matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
“I think it’s always wise for me not to choose a team because then I just alienate one big city,” Obama said.
As the NFL investigates how New England used the deflated balls in its 45-7 AFC Championship Game victory two weeks ago, Obama said the Patriots would have defeated the Indianapolis Colts “regardless of what the footballs looked like.”
“The one thing I did not realize — and I’ll bet most fans didn’t — was that each team prepares its own footballs and brings them to the game,” Obama said. “I don’t think there’s any other sport like that, so I’m assuming one of the things the NFL is going to be doing just to avoid any of these controversies is figuring out how the officials are in charge of the footballs from start to finish.”
Pressed on whether the Patriots were cheating, Obama said: “I think that if you break the rules, then you break the rules.”
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images