WASHINGTON (WJZ)—The day is finally here. President Barack Obama honors the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens at the White House south lawn.
Kai Jackson has more on the commemoration.
Wearing a purple tie, President Barack Obama welcomed the Super Bowl team to the White House on Wednesday afternoon.
“Hello everybody, welcome to the White House, and welcome to the Super Bowl Champion, World Champion Baltimore Ravens,” Obama said to cheering guests. “I suspect that these guys are wondering: ‘What kind of introduction was that? No smoke machine? No fire canons? Obama didn’t even tear up chunks of turf and rub them on his suit.’ That reminds me by the way, please don’t do that on the south lawn.”
In addition to making light of retired Ravens veteran Ray Lewis’ signature dance, the president mentioned Jacoby Jones’ recent run on “Dancing With The Stars.”
Maryland politicians attended the festivities, concluding Congressman Elijah Cummings.
“They’re a little puffed up. I noticed though I’m the only one wearing purple,” Obama said about the Maryland politicians in the crowd. “Some of you guys didn’t get the memo.”
The team is recognized for its Super Bowl XLVII 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 3.
President Obama talked about the team’s journey to victory.
“I imagine there were times last year when these players were the only ones who knew that they’d make it here to show off this trophy because during the year they lost player after player to injury,” Obama said. “In the Super Bowl, just when it looked like they had momentum, the lights went out for a half hour. But these Ravens always pull through.”
The president calls Joe Flacco an elite quarterback.
“Joe capped off one of the greatest postseasons ever by a quarterback,” Obama said. “I don’t know about you Joe, but I would say that qualifies as elite, and I would say that if you keep playing like that you’re going to challenge Biden as the most popular person in Delaware.”
The president commended Coach John Harbaugh for his humility when coaching against his younger brother Jim Harbaugh in the big game. He also spoke of former Raven O.J. Brigance’s courageous fight against ALS, and the resilience of Torrey Smith, who lost his younger brother in a motorcycle accident during the season.
This visit also continues the tradition begun by President Obama of honoring sports teams for their efforts to give back to communities.
Obama says the Ravens donated more than $1 million to charitable causes, helped young people get active through the Play60 campaign, Skyped with the Maryland National Guard stationed in Afghanistan, and will soon host a youth football clinic that emphasizes player safety and proper tackling technique.
The president also announced that the Ravens will donate new uniforms to 42 varsity football and girls basketball teams at public schools all across Baltimore.
“On behalf of the Baltimore Ravens, we want to thank Mr. President for hosting us today. It’s an unbelievable honor. We have plans of being here again next year,” said Coach John Harbaugh.
Former Ravens Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were there too.
“You can’t think about Baltimore without thinking of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, two of the greatest defenders who ever played the game,” Obama said.
Anquan Boldin, Bernard Pollard, Paul Kruger, Sean Considine, Dennis Dixon and Cary Williams are all on new teams with other commitments and were not be able to attend the event.
Ravens executive Ozzie Newsome gave President Obama a traditional team jersey that read “Mr. President” and had the number 44, the Obama’s position in presidential history.