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Seahawks honored, awed by President Obama
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Seahawks arrived at The White House on Wednesday to be honored by President Barack Obama. They left awed by the 44th President of the United States.
President Obama was on his game during the ceremony in The East Room, much like the Seahawks were while winning Super Bowl XLVIII in such impressive fashion at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2 – a 43-8 trouncing of the Denver Broncos that earned them their afternoon at The White House.
“It was pretty neat. It was pretty intense,” general manager John Schneider said. “The President was very prepared. It was really cool. And then being in that moment where you’ve seen other people do it, it’s an amazing feeling.”
“The President was so well-spoken,” Schneider said. “He made it feel heartfelt. It was outstanding.”
Before the team left Seattle, wide receiver Doug Baldwin said he knew the experience would be “cool,” adding, “But I really don’t know how cool it will be until we actually get there.”
“It’s definitely special,” Baldwin said after the ceremony. “It is a rarity that someone is that close to The President and gets to spend time in The White House. So, it’s really special, and I didn’t realize how special it was until we were actually in that moment.
“It’s weird. This is so special, and you don’t even know how special it really is. The President got it done. That speech was phenomenal. It was unbelievable to be that close to him – The President of the United States. It’s a historical moment for all of us, that’s for sure.”
Even Pete Carroll, the Seahawks’ not-easily-overwhelmed coach, was impressed. After President Obama introduced the Seahawks’ Commander in Chiefs, Carroll offered, “Thank you Mr. President. I can’t believe I’m saying that.”
The Coach then added, “I do know that you have access to some of the great special-force units anywhere and you can do whatever you need to do. But I want you to know just a phone call away is the Boom.”
That’s the Legion of Boom, of course, the nickname earned by the secondary that led the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL last season – the All-Pro trio of cornerback Richard Sherman, free safety Earl Thomas, strong safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Byron Maxwell.
No one had to explain that to President Obama. They were just four of the almost 20 Seahawks he gave shout outs to during his speech.
The President on Sherman, who presented him with a 12th Man flag: “I was considering letting Sherman up here to the podium today and giving him the microphone. But we’ve got to go in a little bit.”
The President on nose tackle Brandon Mebane and his sack celebration dance: “You had a dominating defensive line with guys like Michael Bennett and Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane. And Brandon Mebane’s belly-roll dance. You can’t do that here in The White House.”
The President on Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks’ Beast Mode running back, who did not make the trip: “I am sorry that Marshawn’s not here. Because I just wanted to say how much I admire his approach to the press. I’ve got to get some tips from him.”
The President on quarterback Russell Wilson, who just buzzed his hair for charity: “I told him he looks OK this way, too. He doesn’t have a peanut head or anything.”
The President on the significance of Wilson being the Super Bowl winning quarterback, and not having the most significant factor be that he is African-American: “He became the second African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl. And the best part about it is nobody commented on it, which tells you the progress we have made.”
The President on rooting for a team of underdogs like the Seahawks: “Let me just say as a guy who was elected President named Barack Obama, I root for the underdogs. 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. That’s what team is all about. And this is a team. And it’s not just about football. These guys have been overcoming off the field, as well.”
The East Room was packed with politicians from the state of Washington and their guests, as well as many members of the Seahawks’ support staff. And the revved-up gathering roared its approval at every Presidential zinger and each mention of the Seahawks.
As one White House staffer put it, “You’re a guest of The President, not a tourist.”
The East Room is at the end of the East Wing, which also includes the Green Room, Blue Room and Red Room, as well as the vestibule that leads to each room and includes the formal stairway the characters played by Michael Douglas and Annette Bening walked down at the end of “The American President.”
There are portraits of Presidents past and their First Ladies at every turn and on every wall. The view from South Portico features the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial. Out the North Portico is the circular drive you’ve seen so many times on TV.
It was a big day for everyone involved – even the piano player in the Marine quartet that serenaded the Seahawks, whose name just happened to be Russell Wilson. Yes, he had his picture taken with the Seahawks’ QB – several times.
Yes, they are. And their Wednesday at The White House was just the latest reminder for the first-time Super Bowl champion Seahawks.