State legislators use football to raise big money for veterans

Sunday, April 21, 2013 - 8:02pm

Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature disagree on many issues. Supporting veterans is not one of them.

Almost 40 legislators traded their blue and red for purple and white Sunday in the Truce for Troops Bowl.

The game, pitting the parties against each other on the grass of Tiger Stadium, was created by members of the House Special Committee for Military and Veterans Affairs, chaired by Rep. Nick Larusso (R-Gentilly)

"That's why I love being the chairman of this committee," Rep. Larusso stated. "Cause this is one area where all Louisianans, no matter what party; no matter from the north or the south; rural or urban; all get along to support our military. We're a very pro-military state, which I'm very proud of."

"We have some tough issues going on this session, but it's important that we honor those who put their liberty on the line for us," agreed Rep. Ted James (D-Baton Rouge).

All the money they raised, from ticket sales, player donations, and sponsorships, will go to Operation Homefront Louisiana, which serves the families of soldiers, as well as veterans who get injured in combat.

"Oh, it is absolutely valuable," said Lt. Col. Larry Burns, a professor of military science at LSU. "I mean, you have warriors that go off and do the nation's business. They come back, scratched up, and it's great to have folks look out for you after you're done with your work."

"Right now, we're at about a little over $12,000," Rep. Larusso said before kickoff. "And that was before we started opening the gates up. So, heck, if we can get it up to $15,000, it'll be a wonderful day for Operation Homefront Louisiana."

Corey Webster coached the Democrats, and Randall Gay coached the Republicans. Both were standout cornerbacks at LSU, and both have won two Super Bowl rings in the NFL. They got their legislators to play hard, but the competition was much more relaxed than we see inside the Capitol.

"We're friends outside of legislative battlefield, and today, you'll see," Rep. James said. "We just hope no one gets hurt today."

 

There were a couple of injuries, including Achilles' tendon injuries suffered by both Rep. James and Rep. John Schroeder (R-Covington), but they were not enough to keep everyone from appreciating the spirit of the game.

"We're very thankful, the support that we get from the people here in Louisiana towards the military," Lt. Col. Burns said. "And the legislators here, they want to raise money for Operation Homefront. We just feel that, we're glad they look at us as a military community and want to help out, and appreciate what we're doing."

The Democrats won the game, 28-21. While all the money went to Operation Homefront, Larusso and the Democrats' captain, Rep. John Bel Edwards, did wager a dinner on the game.

Some legislators turned down the chance to play, but not because of politics.

"No, patriotism wasn't the issue," Rep. Larusso said. "It was more of an age issue; we're not the youngest people around here."  

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