A look at what S. Florida athletes think about politics

Politically minded professional athletes are urged by agents and coaches to steer clear of controversy, so they are reluctant to wear their GOP or Democratic colors as proudly as their team jerseys.

Lucrative sponsorship deals are on the line, and most athletes are more comfortable endorsing companies like Nike and Gatorade than campaigning for John McCain or Barack Obama.

But there are exceptions:

-- Florida Marlins outfielder Luis Gonzalez is a proud Republican who, during his years with the Arizona Diamondbacks, stumped for McCain, rallied with President Bush and in 2003 was appointed to the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation.

-- Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning made contributions to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the past year and donated $25,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2004. Heat teammate Shawn Marion attended an intimate Obama fundraiser last month in Miami Beach and plans to play pickup basketball with the presidential hopeful in Chicago this summer.

-- And Miami Dolphins kicker Jay Feely is a political junkie who says he enjoyed both of Obama's books but plans to vote for McCain, is lobbying NFL players to register to vote, and has entertained thoughts of running for office once he retires.

Most South Florida athletes don't trumpet their politics, and a search of the Federal Election Commission database found Mourning is the only active local athlete to have donated more than $200 to a candidate (Marion's donation hasn't been recorded yet). But Dolphins, Marlins and Heat players are following the presidential election with heightened interest.

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