White House Writes NFL Players’ Pro-Obamacare Tweets

WH staffer promotes suggested language in Super Bowl Sunday email to NFLPA

February 3, 2014

Obamacare got a boost from current and former National Football League players on Super Bowl Sunday after the White House sent suggested language for laudatory tweets to a representative of the league’s players union.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo earned a retweet from the White House after telling his followers, "don’t forget you can affordable [sic] healthcare at"

That was the last in a series of tweets composed by Ayanbadejo about Other messages were more grammatical, containing language copied directly from an email sent by Kyle Lierman, a liaison in the White House Office of Public Engagement, that encouraged players to promote Obamacare in the runup to the big game.

"Football fans, hope you’re getting ready for Super Bowl XLVIII, don’t forget you can #getcovered at," the Ravens linebacker tweeted earlier in the evening. That language was included word-for-word in Lierman's email to a representative at the NFL Players Association on Sunday suggesting "some thoughts on what players could tweet."

"They can definitely change these up or put their own spin on these," Lierman said in the email, obtained by the Washington Free Beacon on Monday.

Many, though, did not significantly change the suggested language. Ayanbadejo sent three tweets, all of which copied Lierman’s suggested language with the exception of the typo in the last tweet.

The Ravens received a $130,000 contract from Maryland Health Connection, the state’s Obamacare exchange, last year to promote Obamacare. The NFL decided to forego an agreement with officials in charge of the Obamacare rollout.

After Ayanbadejo’s first two tweets, he paused to express his hope that, "one day in the near future there will be medicinal marijuana coverage for pain management,social anxiety&other medical benefits."

His third effort received a White House retweet, pursuant to assurances in Lierman’s email.

"When folks tweet this out if they or you email me with their handle I can flag it for the @whitehouse and our other twitter handles to be retweeted, etc.," he wrote.

Ayanbadejo’s tweet was the only one to be amplified by the official White House twitter account, but other players also repeated, verbatim or nearly so, Lierman’s suggested language.

"Football fans, hope you’re getting ready for Super Bowl XLVIII, don’t forget you can #getcovered at," tweeted former wide receiver and confessed killer Donte Stallworth.

Stallworth also included the hashtag "RockEnroll," which he credited to the Center for American Progress Action Fund and its campaigns director, Emily Tisch Sussman.

Stallworth, who pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter in 2009, recently joined the CAP Action Fund for a pro-Obamacare "flash mob" in New York City and promoted the effort in an MSNBC appearance with Sussman.

A source familiar with the players association’s work in promoting Obamacare told the Free Beacon that the official forwarded Lierman’s email to players’ marketing representatives, who likely made their clients aware of the effort.

The NFLPA did not return a request for comment.

NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus, who has represented Stallworth and Ayanbadejo, also tweeted a pro-Obamacare message that copied language directly from Lierman’s email.

Former NFL defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, a former Rosenhaus client, also used Lierman’s suggested language.