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Vice President Joe Biden Caught In Lie About Playing Football? (UPDATE)

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Vice President Joe Biden makes his closing remarks during the vice presidential debate with Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin at Centre College, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Danville, Ky.
Vice President Joe Biden makes his closing remarks during the vice presidential debate with Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin at Centre College, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Danville, Ky.

As sportswriter Grantland Rice is credited with saying in one form or another, "It's not that you won or lost, but how you played the game."

In Vice President Joe Biden's case, it's whether he played the game at all.

Conservative bloggers are claiming that Biden lied when he recently told campaign supporters that he played football for the University of Delaware. They say he never played a down and never was on the playing roster.

Biden's press secretary, Kendra Barkoff, emailed The Huffington Post a quote from Delaware coaching great Tubby Raymond -- an assistant during Biden's time -- reading, "He was on the team!"

But the Gateway Pundit is piling on with claims that Biden's tale of gridiron glory fumbled with the truth in a big way. In a story titled "The Longest Yarn," the website recounted Biden's speech at a campaign stop on Sept. 8 in Athens, Ohio. He told the crowd that the last time he visited Athens, on Oct. 19, 1963, he was playing for Delaware against Ohio University. He added that he nearly got arrested for walking into a women's dormitory.

The site wrote that an examination of old school yearbooks debunks Biden's story, because he is not listed as playing football in any of the years he attended (1961-65). It also cited a Biden interview in a 1984 Delaware yearbook in which he mentioned playing intramural football (flag football) -- but nothing about playing intercollegiate tackle football.

In a post titled "Win One For The Fibber," Breitbart.com detailed the Sept. 8 campaign-stop speech in which he recalled visiting Ohio University that day in 1963 because “my football team, the University of Delaware, came to avenge a loss.”

"I came, I was a football player," Biden said. "I came here in 1963, and I had to go back, I just double checked my memory – you know, you get my age and you’re not so sure of it, you know, your glory days look more glorious than they really were and all that, so we went back on the Internet and I just want you to know, I came here in October 1963, and we beat you Bobcats 29-12."

In the CBS snippet above, Biden seems to swallow the word "player" as he says it.

The score was correct, but Breitbart -- which also says it checked yearbooks and Internet databases -- insisted Biden played no part on the field. In fact, it pointed out that in Biden's own memoir, "Promises To Keep: On Life And Politics," he wrote that he gave up playing football before the season even started.

NBC News wrote that Biden told the same story on a 2008 campaign stop, declaring to the crowd, "I went to the University of Delaware, and we came out here to play Ohio University."

The school's sports information department told HuffPost that he played briefly on the freshman team in 1961. However, he never played varsity football at Delaware and did not play in the 1963 game at Ohio University.

Update: This story has been updated with additional context and a response from Joe Biden's office and Delaware's sports information department.

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