Championship teams often receive an invitation to the White House, which has Bill Peterman wondering.
“I know Joe has his hands full,” Peterman said. “Maybe he’ll get around to it soon.”
Yes, that’s Joe as in President Joe Biden and Peterman is more than his acquaintance. Both were star players on the undefeated football squad at Delaware’s Archmere Academy, which won a title in 1960 and made the teammates lifelong friends.
Peterman, a 21-year North County resident who recently relocated to San Diego, was the quarterback. Biden was a halfback/flanker with reliable mitts and fluid hips.
“He wasn’t the fastest guy,” said Peterman, 78, a retired entrepreneur. “But he always seemed to know how to get open.”
While Biden’s political career was ascending, he still cracked open his date book once every decade. Biden would throw a bash for the high school bunch where the glory days stories would go deep into the night.
“He had good hands,” Peterman said, and that has him reaching for his Archmere cap.
On it is a message with Biden’s signature: “Pete – Best QB I’ve ever known. You almost made me famous.”
Biden managed on that end. Although, imagine if he finished with 20 touchdown receptions instead of 19 during their senior year?
Whenever Peterman and Biden huddle, that 20th scoring reception that wasn’t, surfaces. Just like other sports buddies giving each other the business.
“Do you remember that one I dropped?” Biden asked Peterman.
“Yes,” Peterman replied.
“Against what school?” Biden said.
“St. Andrews,” Peterman said.
“You got it,” Biden said with a chuckle.
Biden’s not afraid to joke with Peterman. He proved it during Archmere’s 40th anniversary party when Biden was Delaware’s U.S. senator. When meeting reporters after a busy day on the floor, Biden had Peterman stand behind him, as if Peterman was a long-trusted adviser.
It was more than six decades ago that Peterman put his faith in Biden.
Peterman was a transfer from nearby Milford High where, as Peterman puts it, “I was a first-string quarterback with a good-looking girlfriend but not very good grades.”
When he got to Archmere to right his ship, it had a quarterback and its coaches were ho-hum about Peterman’s arrival. When Peterman reached the field, Biden was Peterman’s target during a make-or-break tryout.
“I could throw it long and Joe would basically run under it,” Peterman said. “From then on, I was the quarterback.”
Peterman didn’t know his teenage teammate was a future president, though Biden tipped his hand.
“He was ‘B’ student and always involved in student government,” Peterman said.
Biden schooled Peterman on their last visit in 2010. It was at the vice president’s residence on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory when they toasted the 50th anniversary of Archmere’s milestone.
The North County Times did a story on Peterman’s connection with Biden before the event and it found its way into his reliable hands.
“Every morning I go through the press clippings,” Biden said. “Today, Peterman is getting more press than I am. He’s famous.”
Peterman’s laugh comes with a dream: that a 60th anniversary visit between these old chums — impossible last year with the pandemic — can happen at the White House.
“I’m hoping we can do it,” Peterman said. “There’s just something about that bond you have with a teammate. You know he’s got your blindside and I would have his.”
Even when one of them becomes the 46th president of the United States.