WASHINGTON — President Obama hailed the Seattle Seahawks as fellow underdogs during a White House ceremony Wednesday to honor the reigning Super Bowl champions.
Speaking before a packed audience in the East Room, Obama singled out several players for notable achievements, including quarterback Russell Wilson, who despite his undersized stature has “been proving the doubters wrong for a very long time.”
“As a guy who was elected president named Barack Obama, I root for the underdog,” Obama said.
Five dozen players and coaches, along with Seahawks owner Paul Allen, joined Obama at the lectern. Many of the players were so nattily dressed that as they filed in singly to the East Room, it briefly felt like a venue for a fashion show.
Though Obama is a confirmed basketball fan, he sprinkled his 10-minute comments with knowing references to the Seahawks. He lamented that running back Marshawn Lynch — who notoriously appeared at a news conference and refused to speak — was absent, saying that he admires Lynch’s approach to the media and “wanted to get some tips from him.”
Obama also noted Allen’s family foundations has donated hundreds of millions of dollars for medical research. He gave props to Seahawks fans for twice breaking the record last season for loudest crowd noise.
Obama concluded his remarks by hoisting a 12th-Man banner and posing with the players before a sea of cameras and smartphones.
Afterwards, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said it was “an extraordinary day for our team and the ownership … it’s a big thing” to be honored by the president.
Among the guests were many local and federal politicians, including U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and U.S. Reps. Jim McDermott of Seattle and Dave Reichert of Auburn.
Ed Murray, who attended the Seahawk’s Super Bowl game against the Denver Broncos as well as the White House Christmas party, said Wednesday’s event was another unforgettable experience.
“It’s one of the highlights of my life,” Murray said.