Amy Ryan
August 18, 2005 at 04:47 PM EDT

One prerogative of age is being able to say what you want without caring what others think. Witness the Rolling Stones, who spout off to USA Today on the eve of their Bigger Bang tour, kicking off Sunday. Early attention has focused on the new anti-Bush song ”Sweet Neo-Con,” but Mick Jagger (left) says his opinions on politics have no less merit than those of, say, a New York Times op-ed writer. ”Maureen Dowd is no more qualified to have opinions than I am,” he says.

The Stones also freely offer their opinions on such topics as corporate sponsorship, like the band’s new NFL promotional deal. If you’re going to accuse the band of selling out, says Jagger, you’re far too late, though Keith Richards (right) admits he doesn’t even like American football. ”Quite honestly, I don’t like that sport,” he says. ”I think it’s a spectacle, not a sport. When you’ve got the team on the run, you don’t give ’em timeout for a bloody ad. But the NFL is sort of that icon thing. It’s fun.”

As for the issue of the band’s age, Richards deftly spins it, noting that the Stones are going where no rock band has gone before, into their geriatric years. ”We’re on the cutting edge,” he says. ”Nobody’s been here before, and it’s kind of an adventure.” As for critics who wonder why the Stones even still try, he says, ”Well, why not? We’re a great band. We love to play. If there’s that many people who love to hear us, what’s the beef? I intend to get a lot older and a lot more wrinkled. So sharpen your pen.”

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