Before the 2008 Kentucky-Louisville football game, I bumped into a guy in the Papa John's Cardinal Stadium press box wearing a nondescript green shirt.
Turned out the guy in green was the then-new governor of Kentucky, Steve Beshear. For fun, I asked the governor why he was in green, not UK blue or U of L red.
Noting that he would be on the field after the game to present the Governor's Cup trophy to the winning team, Beshear — who holds both undergraduate and law degrees from UK — asked, "Can you imagine going out to present the trophy and wearing the wrong color?"
I've been thinking a lot about politicians and sports because of the massive amount of attention heaped on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for his highly visible Dallas Cowboys fandom.
The most memorable sports image of 2015 so far was Christie's awkward participation in a three-way "man hug" that included Jerry Jones in the Cowboys' owners box after Dallas beat Detroit in the opening round of the NFL playoffs.
For all the scorn Christie has taken for his support of the 'Boys — if you want to see a truly frightening sight, Google the illustration of the portly Garden State Guv dressed as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader that ran on the cover of the New Jersey newspaper, The Trentonian — I think it has been kind of refreshing.
When it comes to politicians and sports, give me authenticity and real fandom. Spare me the bland, offend-no-one neutrality that too many politicians adopt but no one really buys.
In 1994, before Arkansas faced Duke in the men's basketball NCAA championship game, the-then president of the United States did not pretend to be neutral.
Nope. Hope, Ark., native Bill Clinton made no bones about pulling for the Hogs.
I respected that. Heck, Duke followers should have respected that.
It was authentic fandom.
In the commonwealth of Kentucky's sports history, the most famous instance of a politician going Switzerland came during the 1983 NCAA tournament, when UK and U of L faced each other on a basketball court for the first time in 24 years.
For anyone old enough to recall that round-of-eight game, one of the enduring memories is the half-UK blue, half-U of L red sport coat that then-Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. wore in the stands.
"I think more people remember that coat than anything I did as governor," Brown told me in 2012.
Given the unique nature of the original "Dream Game," Brown's 50-50 stance that day was appropriate. But when Cats and Cards opened the following regular season in Rupp Arena, Brown, a UK graduate, made no bones of his support for the Wildcats.
When Kentucky and Louisville met in the 2012 Final Four, Beshear dropped the "green shirt" and sat with UK fans. His lieutenant governor at the time, the former long-term mayor of Louisville, Jerry Abramson, sat with U of L backers.
Was anyone offended because the commonwealth's top two executive branch officials showed support for the teams they really rooted for?
The knock on Christie's unabashed Cowboys' fandom seems to center on the fact that New Jersey is not especially close to Dallas. It is also true that the NFL's Giants and Jets play their games in New Jersey, although both teams still use New York in their names.
As Christie, 52, explained in a visit to a New Jersey elementary school in 2013, his sports allegiances were formed while he was growing up in the 1970s.
"I was a big fan of Roger Staubach, who was the quarterback for the Cowboys back then," Christie said. "And the Giants and Jets pretty much stunk when I was a kid."
It has been fascinating to watch the number of people who have tried to read presidential election ramifications into Christie's support for Dallas.
He's trying to gain approval in red states.
He must not care about getting votes in Michigan.
What I think is that 99.9 percent of voters make decisions on who to vote for based on political issues, not sports allegiances.
Consider: Here in Kentucky, the UK Wildcats are generally thought to be the most popular college sports franchise in 119 out of our 120 counties. The exception is Jefferson County, home of the U of L Cardinals.
Yet in our state's hotly contested 2014 U.S. Senate race, Mitch McConnell, an ardent backer of Louisville sports teams, won 110 of Kentucky's 120 counties.
One of the 10 he lost was Jefferson County.