As a presidential candidate from a southern state, it makes sense that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio would have a fluency in football.
A TV commercial for his campaign, airing this weekend during NFL playoff games, touches on his background in the sport, with an unspoken reference to Northwest Missouri.
Rubio, a native Floridian who wore number 46 when playing for the South Miami Senior High School Cobras, came to Tarkio College in 1989 on a football scholarship.
Tarkio, playing in the NAIA’s Heart of America Conference, won four games in 1989, while losing five and tying one. However, the Owls won four of the last five games.
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(It would be the penultimate season for the Tarkio football squad. The 107-year-old school closed in May 1991 after declaring bankruptcy.)
The future senator left the Atchison County college after one year, transferring to Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Florida, ending his football aspirations.
According to his Senate biography, he would eventually get his bachelor’s degree at the crosstown University of Florida, then go to law school at the University of Miami.
Seeking the Republican nomination, Rubio takes center stage in a 60-second TV ad called, “Marco Rubio Catches Footballs and Fields Questions.”
One question, spoken off-camera as the candidate tosses around a football, is if he was more nervous before his first presidential debate or before his first college football game.
“I was more nervous before my first college football game,” he said, “because you were actually going to get hit.”
Rubio said he picks the Miami Dolphins to win the Super Bowl every year, adding then of his predictions, “I have never gotten the Super Bowl right.”
The question comes to him about his favorite Dolphins cheerleader. “That’s easy, Jeanette Rubio,” he replies, referring to his wife, who cheered for the NFL team in 1997.