President Gerald Ford, Former College Gridiron Star, Played Fast and Loose with Nuclear Football
Former aide alleges Ford inadvertently put nation on nuclear brink demonstrating his “long snap” technique
President Gerald Ford sends VP Bob Dole to other side of the Oval Office to receive snap. Dole recoils in mock horror, though he later complied, taking a perfectly snapped briefcase to the midsection; Ford later apologized upon learning of Dole's lame right arm, a result of a WWII injury.
WASHINGTON, DC (The Sportsman's Daily Wire Service) — While Gerald Ford presided over a period of national recovery, it turns out he was, in football parlance, often careless with the “ball” – the ominous, carefully guarded black briefcase commonly referred to as the “nuclear football.” The specially-outfitted briefcase is used by the President of the United States to authorize the use of nuclear weapons while the President is away from fixed command centers, such as the White House Situation Room. Dick Peck, a former White House aide, cites “at least six” occasions when the nation was but an errant “snap” away from nuclear conflagration.
“I was there in the Oval Office and it happened maybe six, seven times, usually with other staffers who I’m sure can vouch for this. The President would often kill time between thoughts – which could leave us hanging for well over twenty minutes – bent over this black briefcase that I learned later was the nuclear football. He was a center in college and loved launching long snaps to an imaginary punter across the room. Usually it would carom harmlessly off the walls. But one time it actually flew out the window and hit a Bolivian gardener outside weeding the Rose Garden. Imagine if instead of a Bolivian gardener it fell into the outstretched hands of a visiting Soviet attaché…or hit a Cuban agent between the numbers…or tumbled into the arms of a Bulgarian midget with an axe to grind. The mind reels.”
While known predominantly for his actions as the post-Watergate president, Ford was also a highly accomplished athlete. Playing center for the University of Michigan, Ford helped lead the Wolverines to the national championship in 1932 and 1933. Michigan went undefeated in both seasons.
We asked then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger if he’d ever witnessed the President using the briefcase – or nuclear football – in the manner Peck described.
“Mr. Peck is mistaken,” Mr. Kissinger insisted. “We knew of President Ford’s, uh, propensities, which is why early on we replaced the President’s emergency satchel with a piece of black Samsonite luggage. We packed a flare, a sterno stove, a pair of clean underwear and a room key to a nearby Holiday Inn in the event of a national crisis.”
Dr. Kissinger went on to muse about subsequent Presidents and their idiosyncratic use of the nuclear football.
“A chuckling President Reagan would hold it up and begin a countdown, to the amusement of his assembled staff. Clinton used it to impress the chicks. President George W. Bush, well, Dick is in possession of the actual satchel…the President’s security detail carries a lunchbox with the Presidential seal. It comes in handy when the President is away from the White House and demands a specially prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He gets irritable on an empty stomach, which, regrettably, has resulted in a series of international catastrophes, far exceeding anything that ever resulted from the handling – or mishandling -- of the nuclear football.”
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