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August 11, 2010

Offside? Delegate's NFL experience questioned

His district is the heart of Redskins territory, but on his campaign web site, Prince George's County Del. Michael Vaughn highlights his time as a player for the hated Dallas Cowboys.

Lately, though, the Democratic legislator has been tussling with the Washington City Paper over his NFL record.

Last week, City Paper's Dave McKenna wrote that Vaughn "plays fantasy football with his bio." Specifically, McKenna wrote, the lawmaker falsely claimed on his web site that he played for three years with the Cowboys. McKenna wrote that the Cowboys have no record of Vaughn.

When confronted by the reporter, Vaughn said he practiced with the Cowboys for a few months in 1980 but acknowledged he'd never played a game with them -- and certainly hadn't spent three years on the team. 

The web site, Vaughn told the reporter, was inaccurate. He blamed the webmaster, whom he said was either "overzealous" or misunderstood the information he'd sent.

This week, Vaughn issued a statement accusing the City Paper of "attempt(ing) to create the appearance of dishonesty on my part." He says the article made it sound as if his NFL career was made up. It's not, he says.

Vaughn says he was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent wide receiver in 1980 but didn't make it out of training camp. A year later, he signed with the New Orleans Saints as a free agent, but didn't make the cut there, either, he said. He said he is a professional member of the NFL Alumni Association, a designation reserved for NFL players (however brief their stints).

"My credibility is very important to me," Vaughn said in an interview Wednesday. "I've never exaggerated my time with the NFL. I even tell people it was a cup of coffee."

After the Saints and a short run with the New Jersey Generals in the ill-fated United States Football League, Vaughn quit playing football altogether, feeling he was "always a bridesmaid, never a bride."

Vaughn's campaign web site has been changed. It makes no mention of his length of time with the Cowboys but says he signed with them as a free agent, though there's no mention of the Saints. (A Dallas Morning News blog wonders why the Landover legislator would want to note his Cowboys career at all.)

There's another member of the Prince George's County delegation with NFL ties. Del. Jay Walker, a Democrat, says he played four seasons with the NFL in the 1990s, two with the New England Patriots and two with the Minnesota Vikings.

Walker's entry at indicates that the former Howard and Long Beach State quarterback signed with the Patriots as a seventh-round draft pick in 1994 and appeared in one NFL game, completing 2 of 2 pass attempts for 31 yards for the Vikings in 1996.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 3:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Candidate Watch 2010

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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