The term “Green Bay Sweep” has been given strange new life surrounding the events of Jan. 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol.
Borrowing a name from a famous play implemented by Vince Lombardi’s Packers, former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro called his plan to keep Trump installed as president “a perfect plan” and gave it the name “the Green Bay sweep.” It’s a term you might hear thrown around on the one-year anniversary of the attack at the Capitol by rioters looking to overturn the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Navarro wrote in his memoir, “In Trump Time: My Journal of America’s Plague Year,” that he had more than 100 congressmen committed to the idea, which included waging a series of challenges over a 24-hour period that would delay certification of election results. That maneuver was intended to increase public pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to send electoral votes back to six contested states (including Wisconsin), where Republican-led legislatures could try to overturn the results.
Navarro said the violence on Capitol Hill actually served to disrupt his plan, prompting Pence and other Republicans to more rapidly certify results.
Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and U.S. Reps. Scott Fitzgerald and Tom Tiffany planned to go along with the objections but Johnson reversed course after the Capitol was attacked.
Fitzgerald and Tiffany did not waver, however, and were the state’s only lawmakers to vote to overturn Joe Biden’s presidential victory in the swing states of Arizona and Pennsylvania. Both Republicans said they would have voted to overturn Biden’s victory in Wisconsin, too, if it had been up for a vote.
Fitzgerald and Tiffany had just been elected to the U.S. House after lengthy stints in the Wisconsin state Senate.
Both said in January 2020 that the election in Wisconsin didn’t follow laws written by the Legislature — an argument Republicans in the state have used to pursue a number of changes to how elections are administered, including calling for the resignations of top officials in the state elections agency and launching a partisan review of the election.
State and federal courts have upheld Biden’s victory in Wisconsin of about 21,000 votes.
As The Washington Post lays out, it’s unlikely the plan would have worked.
Navarro said he cooked up the plot with Trump adviser Steve Bannon, naming it after the play that helped the 1960s Green Bay Packers pile up five NFL championships.
Navarro feels that Pence, described as the “quarterback” in the scenario, wasn’t fully on board and didn’t “hand off” the opportunity to state legislatures. The members of Congress continually challenging state results served as the metaphorical blockers.
The original play was introduced by Lombardi during his NFL head coaching days, first with the Giants and then with the Packers. With Paul Hornung or Jim Taylor taking the football, the running back would glide parallel to the line of scrimmage until blockers were in position to lead the rush forward. Green Bay continually returned to the play to chew up clock and make steady progress down the field, with Hall of Fame blockers such as Jerry Kramer, Jim Ringo and Forrest Gregg making the job easier.
Celebrated football coach and broadcaster John Madden, who died Dec. 28, told NFL Films in 2014 about an early encounter with Lombardi at a seminar in which the Packers legend spent hours detailing the intricacies of the play.
“I went in there cocky, thinking I knew everything there was to know about football, and he spent eight hours talking about this one play,” Madden said. “He talked for four hours, took a break, came back and talked for four more. I realized then that I actually knew nothing about football.”
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