Marco Rubio is running for president of the United States. But he’s also just a regular old manly American man who loves throwing a pigskin as much as the next dude, as one ill-fated child learned on Tuesday.
During a stop at the Iowa State Fair Tuesday, the Florida senator lobbed a football towards a flailing blond child and hit him in the head with it.
In fairness to Rubio, the kid seemed ill-prepared to make the catch. His hands went up at the last second of the route he ran and Rubio’s throw was just slightly out of reach. He is reportedly fine but now undoubtedly viral.
Throughout his political career, Rubio, who is married to a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, hasn’t kept his love of football a secret from anyone. His YouTube account showcased a video in 2013 in which he is being praised for flying down from Washington, D.C. to coach his sons in youth football games.
Rubio also claimed that, unlike President Obama, he’d never keep his sons from playing football. After all, he isn’t too damaged from his own days on the high school gridiron.
“When I played and when most people here played tackle football, you actually were taught to hit with your head,” the senator said in a 2013 interview with BuzzFeed. And while he acknowledged the inherent problems with professional football collisions, he wasn’t interested in dealing with it legislatively, as Senator McCain has tried.
Before he got to the Senate, however, Rubio had a habit of mixing business (politics) and pleasure (football). In 2006 Rubio caught passes from former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino inside the Florida House. “Representative Rubio’s fingers are broken,” Florida House Speaker Allan Bense joked at the time.
And before catching a cannon of a pass from one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks, Rubio kneeled and seemingly ‘Tebowed’ before the god-fearing quarterback began playing for the University of Florida. Marino was in the House in April 2006 and Tebow only started playing the fall of that year.
But one famous quarterback inside a legislative building was not enough for the red-blooded American. In 2008, he and Tebow cleared out an aisle to throw passes to each other during one of Rubio’s regular work days.
Rubio, who was the Florida Speaker of the House at the time, boggled a catch and blamed Tebow for throwing it too low. On the second attempt, he caught it to the uproarious applause of all the people not doing work in the House.
Presumably Rubio shines the most in his football prowess while playing with major leaguers instead of little kids. And at least the White House lawn is big enough for a pickup game.
The Rubio campaign has not returned a request for comment about the status of the child or Rubio’s ego.