WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama’s praise of the Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks was peppered with a few punchlines as the NFL champions were honored at the White House.
The Commander in Chief wasn’t afraid to take on notoriously outspoken Seahawks defender Richard Sherman — but it was running back Marshawn Lynch — who managed to dodge the press so adroitly — that provoked the president’s envy.
“I considered letting Sherman up here to the podium today,” Obama said to laughter on Wednesday. “Giving him the mic, but we’ve got to go in a little bit.”
Obama gave a quick recap of the Seahawks’ championship season, noting their defensive dominance during the regular season, their NFC Championship victory over the San Francisco 49ers and, finally, their 35-point triumph over the Denver Broncos in February’s Super Bowl.
“Of course, I don’t need to tell you how outstanding the Seahawks are because they did a pretty good job of describing themselves as outstanding during the year,” he said. “You may have heard about the Legion of Boom.”
He went on to name the vaunted defensive secondary: Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Byron Maxwell, along with defensive linemen Michael Bennett, Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane “and Brandon Mebane’s belly roll dance”.
There was a mention for Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Malcom Smith, and receiver Percy Harvin, as well as quarterback Russell Wilson who has emerged as a superstar signal-caller in his second season.
“So Russell has won more games through his first two seasons than any quarterback in history,” Obama said. “He also became only the second African-American quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl. And the best part about it is nobody commented on it, which tells you the progress that we’ve made, although we’ve got more progress to make.”
Obama paid tribute to Seattle’s stalwart fans, the so-called 12th man whose riotous support was literally ground-shaking.
“Last season, ‘the 12s’ set a record not once, but twice, for the loudest crowd noise in history,” he said. “Now, history is a long time, so that’s really loud.”
He noted that Seattle’s first Super Bowl-winning team featured 19 former undrafted players, and three of the starters in the vaunted secondary were taken in the fifth round or later.
“So let me just say, as a guy who was elected President named Barack Obama, I root for the underdogs,” he said. “And so seeing folks overcome the odds excites me. But it also excites me when you see the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. And that’s what team is all about. And this is a team.”
The only downside for Obama on the day was missing out on a chance to meet Lynch, who didn’t attend.
“I am sorry that Marshawn is not here, because I just wanted to say how much I admire his approach to the press,” Obama said. “I wanted to get some tips from him.”