Joe Biden has a tendency to get a bit garrulous and loose with his tall tales while on the campaign trail.
In that regards, Biden’s the epitome of a retail politician. He glad-handles and cajoles, contrives and confabulates, panders and pretends.
So, the president’s exchange in South Carolina with a patron of a barber shop shouldn’t surprise us as leading to a bit of joshing.
“If I had you running in front of me when I was playing at Delaware, I could’ve been All-American, man,” he said to a gentleman in a barber’s chair.
The Biden boast, typical of politicians, has a grain of truth to it: On the surface, it appears that Joe Biden did “play” college football at the University of Delaware.
But Joe Biden didn’t play a game with the competitive University of Delaware squad, in part because he struggled academically and was pressured to quit by his parents, according to multiple accounts. He did, however, play with the Freshman squad.
Joe Biden’s college football career at the University of Delaware gets a little controversial. On a campaign stop at Ohio University in 2012, he claimed that the last time that he was in Athens was for a Delaware vs. Ohio football game in 1963 (he would’ve been a junior then), which Delaware won by a score of 29-12.
The score is correct but shortly after Biden’s stop in Athens, the Huffington Post was told by the university’s sports information department that Biden never played varsity football. He did, however, play freshman football for the Fightin’ Blue Hens, which adds up given the fact that up until 1972, the NCAA didn’t allow freshmen to play varsity sports.
Perhaps Biden was at that game in 1963 as a fan or traveling with the team. He said in his memoir that he stopped playing football as a freshman because he wasn’t doing so well academically and that his parents essentially forced him to quit.
Newsweek provided more details about Biden’s experience “playing college football.”
According to a 2020 article by The Daily Pennsylvanian, although Biden played college football, joining the Delaware freshman team nicknamed the “Blue Chicks,” he quit after the fall season after earning a 1.9 grade point average.
In his book, Promises to Keep, Biden wrote: “When my first semester grades came out, my mom and dad told me I wouldn’t be playing spring football.”
A glowing but misleading article at Marca called Joe Biden a “college football star,” but provides no documentation to back up that assertion.
Instead, it cites the high school football statistics he accomplished while at Archmere private high school in a section on “Biden played football in college”:
Joe Biden is a big fan of football, while studying law at the University of Delaware, the now president integrated the varsity team as a wide receiver and half back.
“In almost every huddle I was the leader,” Biden wrote in his book “Promises to Keep.”
“I was the leading scorer on our soccer team, undefeated and undefeated, my senior year, and I did not lack confidence on the field.”
“As much as I lacked confidence in my ability to communicate verbally, I always had confidence in my athletic ability. Sports were as natural to me as talking wasn’t. And sports turned out to be my ticket to acceptance – and more. I wasn’t easily intimidated in a game, so even when I stuttered, I was always the guy who said, ‘Give me the ball.'”
Records obtained by the Daily Pennsylvanian show that Biden scored four touchdowns in Archmere‘s four conference games, the most of anyone on the team. The former vice president also scored six touchdowns in the team’s four non-conference games, giving him 60 points on the season, one of the highest totals in the state of Delaware.
Thus, Joe Biden didn’t play for the varsity college football team by virtually all accounts, including the University of Delaware’s sports information team and his own memoir.
The upshot of Biden’s boast about playing college football is that if you can’t trust a person to tell you the truth on the small things, you certainly can’t expect them to tell you the truth on the big things.
Follow Kyle Becker on X @kylenabecker.