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Obama (grudgingly) honors Super Bowl champion Packers

August 12, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli | Washington Bureau
  • President Obama receives a jersey from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as he honored the Super Bowl XLV football champions at the White House on Friday.
President Obama receives a jersey from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron… (Jason Reed / Reuters )

He wasn't happy about it. But President Obama reluctantly feted the Green Bay Packers at the White House on Friday, celebrating their road to a Super Bowl championship that included a playoff win at Soldier Field.

"I'm just going to come out and say it. This -- this hurts a little bit," the nation's No. 1 Chicago Bears fan said as he took to the stage in front of the White House's South Portico on a sun-drenched afternoon.

"It doesn't hurt as much as the NFC championship game hurt, but it still hurts," he said.

In January, the president had pledged to attend Super Bowl XLV if his Bears beat the Packers in that NFC title game. But the Packers won 21-14, and then beat the Pittsburgh Steelers to claim their fourth Super Bowl title.

"You know, you guys come into my house, to rub it in. But what are you going to do? Go to Ditka's house next?"

The Packers had some fun at Obama's expense, and even made him a part-owner of the team, giving him a few shares of the league's only publicly owned franchise.

Obama joked that he hoped to use his newfound status to make a trade and send Super Bowl MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers to Chicago.

"Enjoy it while it lasts," Obama said, "because Bears fans have two dates circled on our calendars: September 25th and Sunday Night Football on Christmas Day!"

And if the Packers are hot, Obama added: "just keep in mind that there's only one person here who can ground all planes in and out of Green Bay if he has to."

The Packers stopped in Washington before heading to Cleveland for the team's first preseason game.

Count the president among the many NFL fans happy that owners and players settled their labor dispute in time for the season to begin.

"Nobody likes long, frustrating negotiations with a rigid opposition taking it to the brink," he said, an allusion to the debt-ceiling debate that was settled just after the NFL lockout ended.

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