Biden repeats football claim against West Point graduates at commencement address

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President Biden repeated a claim during his speech at West Point on Saturday about turning down an appointment at the US Naval Academy, where he supposedly wanted to play football.

Biden told West Point graduates that Republican Sen. J. Caleb Boggs, whom he defeated to become U.S. senator, “appointed” him to the Naval Academy years before they ran head to head in 1972.

The president said before his interview, “I found out two days earlier they had a quarterback named Roger Staubach, and a halfback named Joe Bellino. And I said, I'm not going there. I went to Delaware. No joke. ”

It's the same story Biden told to Naval Academy graduates in 2022, when he claimed he had been accepted into the military institution in 1965 but declined to attend. When Biden told the story Saturday, however, he did not offer a date.

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President Joe Biden speaks to the Class of 2024 during commencement exercises at West Point on May 25, 2024 in West Point, New York. The West Point graduation ceremony is held at Michie Stadium and includes approximately 1,000 cadets who graduate and serve in the Army as second lieutenants. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Staubach, a Heisman Trophy winner and NFL Hall of Famer, played his first game for Navy in 1962. Bellino, the first Naval Academy player to win the Heisman Trophy, played his last game in January 1961.

Biden played for the high school team at Archmere Academy in Claymont, graduating in 1961. By his senior year of high school, he was a successful wide receiver, scoring ten touchdowns in eight games. The team remained undefeated that year, Yahoo Sports reported in 2021.

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Biden attended the University of Delaware, graduating in 1965. He reportedly played briefly on the 1961 freshman team but did not complete the season.

Roger Staubach during Super Bowl

Roger Staubach of the Dallas Cowboys throws the football during the Super Bowl game against the Denver Broncos in New Orleans. (Bettmann/Getty Images)

“In almost every group, I was the leader,” Biden wrote in his autobiography “Promises to Keep.” “I was the leading scorer on our undefeated and undefeated football team my senior year, and I did not lack confidence on the field.”

Staubach graduated from the Naval Academy in 1964 before leaving to fight in Vietnam and later returned to play 11 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. Bellino, who also fought in Vietnam and had a brief NFL career, graduated in 1961 — at least four years before Biden claimed he was considering playing football for the Midshipmen.

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President Biden greets the West Point graduate

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

RNC Research, an X account run by the Republican National Committee's rapid response team, called Biden's claim questionable.

“He has repeated this lie many times and there is still no record of this ever happening,” the RNC wrote.

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Biden's speech at West Point marked the second time the president has participated in the military academy's graduation ceremony. He previously delivered the 2016 commencement address as vice president.

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