(TheBlaze/AP) — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took a break from debate preparations Sunday to watch an unconventional game of football between members of his staff, and the reporters whose job it is to cover him.

Less than three weeks before Election Day, Romney headed to Delray Beach, where senior staffers were gathered across from the press team, all in flag football uniforms. Romney walked down through the sand to officiate the coin toss and buck up his team.

Romney Staffers Play Football Against Members of the Press in Florida

(Photo: Getty Images)

The former Massachusetts governor handed bracelets to both team captains, New York Times reporter Ashley Parker and Romney Communications Director Gail Gitcho. He told them the bracelets read, “Clear eyes, full hearts, America can’t lose.”

It’s a version of the slogan from TV’s Friday Night Lights, and one the governor has used along the campaign trail.

Romney Staffers Play Football Against Members of the Press in Florida

After the coin toss– which the reporters won– Romney gathered his aides into a huddle and led them in a cheer.

“Figure out which of their players is best and take them out early,” Romney joked. “That’s right, don’t worry about injuries guys, this counts. Win.”

Going over who would be playing what position, the governor also laughed about what a help Chris Christie would be.  “Where’s Chris Christie when we need him?” he said.

Romney Staffers Play Football Against Members of the Press in Florida

Romney didn’t talk politics, one of his aides telling other members of the press: “Guys, this is a football game, come on.”

Though the game ended early so the professionals could return to work, Ann Romney reportedly subbed in at one point, throwing a touchdown to tie the game.  The final score was 14-14.

The New York Times relates that there is a history of candidates occasionally interacting with members of the press.  John McCain invited reporters to a barbecue at his home in 2008, and they have also been known to participate in Barack Obama’s basketball games.

The Associated Press has video:

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