Seven months after the NFL playoffs, the most high-profile fan of the Chicago Bears in the nation welcomed the Green Bay Packers into his home, in keeping with tradition. The Green Bay Packers finally got the customary White House reception as the Super Bowl champions.
Reception for Super Bowl champs a tradition
A long-standing tradition in American sports is that the winners of various national sporting competitions are invited to Washington D.C. for a White House reception to meet the president. The Green Bay Packers, winners of Super Bowl 45, finally had their reception on the White House lawn, according to USA Today. President Obama had hosted 21 different winning teams at the White House by June of 2010 from both the amateur and professional ranks, according to CBS. According to SportsGrid, CBS reporter and presidential historian Mark Knoller traced the practice of a sitting president inviting a sports team to Washington back to Calvin Coolidge, who invited the Washington Senators baseball team to the White House after they won the 1924 World Series.
It pained him to do it
According to USA Today, Obama wasted no time in alluding to the long-standing rivalry between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. “This hurts a little bit. … You guys come to my house to rub it in,” he said.
He congratulated them on their accomplishments, and then said “enjoy it while it lasts” before reminding the team about the two games the Packers will play against the Bears. He also cautioned them that he could order all planes in Green Bay grounded, if need be. Packers’ cornerback Charles Woodson presented Obama with a certificate granting him ownership shares in the Green Bay Packers, the only publicly traded and non-profit team in the NFL. Obama joked that as an owner, “we should … send Rodgers down to the Bears!” Obama and Woodson engaged in a little good-natured ribbing during the season; Woodson told the team after the Packers beat the Bears in the NFC championship: “The president doesn’t want to come see us. … We’re gonna go see him!” Woodson, according to ABC, sent Obama a signed jersey reading “See you at the White House.”
Presidents and Super Bowls
This is not the first time that the Packers-Bears rivalry has gone to the White House. According to Wikipedia, quarterback Jim McMahon, who won a Super Bowl as a Bear and again as Brett Favre’s back-up, wore his Bears jersey to the White House, angering Packers fans. No sitting U.S. president has ever gone to the Super Bowl in person, according to a blog by Bill Ucey, a former researcher for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. However, ex-presidents have. Vice President Joe Biden did go to a sports event in person, venturing to Frisco, Texas, to watch the Delaware Blue Hens take on the Eastern Washington University Eagles in the NCAA Division I football championship. His team lost.
USA Today: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/thehuddle/post/2011/08/president-barack-obama-welcomes-packers-to-white-house/1
Jim McMahon on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_McMahon
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