President Joe Biden seems to have told a football fib during a speech Friday at the U.S. Naval Academy, claiming he was accepted to the vaunted military institution back in 1965, but declined because future NFL Hall of Fame Roger Staubach blocked his path to playing for the Midshipmen.
Biden said he instead went to the University of Delaware, which is true. But he never played varsity football there, and there’s no evidence he ever declined a spot at Navy. The years don’t come close to matching up, either. It appears to be the latest example of Biden trying to fit in with a crowd of people he’s addressing by saying he’s been in their shoes.
“I was appointed to the Academy in 1965 by a senator who I was running against in 1972,” Biden said, as part of a story about Sen. J. Caleb Boggs, who he defeated to became a U.S. senator.
Joe Biden falsely claimed he “was appointed to the [Naval] Academy in 1965” while speaking to Naval Academy graduates today.
Biden graduated from the University of Delaware in 1965, making that impossible. pic.twitter.com/oSTmjeqSLb
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) May 27, 2022
“I didn’t come to the Academy because I wanted to be a football star,” Biden continued. “And you had a guy named Staubach and Bellino here. So I went to Delaware.”
Biden would’ve been 23 in 1965 and graduated from the University of Delaware that same year.
Biden was a pretty good wide receiver at Wilmington’s Archmere Academy, once catching three touchdown passes from quarterback Bill Peterman during their 1-6 junior year. During his 1960 senior year at Archmere, with a new coach, Biden scored 10 touchdowns in eight games and the team went undefeated.
“In almost any group I was the leader,” Biden later wrote in his autobiography. “I was the leading scorer on our undefeated and untied football team my senior year, and I didn’t lack for confidence on the field.”
Staubach and Joe Bellino, the only two Navy players to win the Heisman trophy, were gone before 1965. Staubach graduated in 1964, and went off to fight in Vietnam before coming home and having a storied career with the Dallas Cowboys. Bellino was a halfback who graduated in 1961, also fought in Vietnam, and had a brief career in the NFL.
In 2008, Biden took heat for telling what seemed to be a tall football tale about playing for the University of Delaware against Ohio University.
“I came here in 1963, and I had to go back, I just double checked my memory – you know, you get my age and you’re not so sure of it, you know, your glory days look more glorious than they really were and all that, so we went back on the Internet and I just want you to know, I came here in October 1963, and we beat you Bobcats 29-12,” he claimed.
But a subsequent fact-check determined that Biden had only briefly been on the school’s freshman football team during the 1961 season.
“Joe Biden DID play on the 1961 University of Delaware freshman team, but did not finish out the season in order to earn a letter,” Delaware Sports Information Director Scott Selheimer said in 2012. “He later came out for the team in the spring of 1963 and took part in practices, but did not end up playing varsity football in the fall of 1963 when the official competition season takes place. Thus he was not listed on the roster.”
An aide to Biden at the time later clarified that the then-vice president meant he had gone to Ohio to cheer for Delaware, not actually play.
“The Vice President went to Athens with the University of Delaware football team to cheer,” the aide said. “As he makes clear in his statement, he played football, but not during the fall of his junior year.”
Biden’s truth-challenged stories are legendary, from his infamous tangle with a mythical 1950s gangbanger named “Cornpop” to the claim he drove a tractor trailer and worked with a dispatcher named “Big Mama.”
Last year, Biden told Jewish leaders he went to the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh after the mass murder of 11 people in 2018. The synagogue said he never visited and the White House clarified by saying he phoned the rabbi the next year.
He also told an Idaho audience that his “first job offer” came from local lumber company Boise Cascade, of which company officials said they had no record. Biden also claimed in 2020 that he was arrested in the 1980s when he tried to see anti-Apartheid leader and civil rights icon Nelson Mandela in prison, but later admitted that it was untrue.