Seahawks Insider

President Obama jokes with, lauds Seahawks

Post by Todd Dybas / The News Tribune on May 21, 2014 at 12:22 pm with 37 Comments »
May 21, 2014 9:22 pm
President Barack Obama holds up a '12th man' banner as he welcomes the NFL Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks to the East Room of the White House. / AP photo
President Barack Obama holds up a ’12th man’ banner as he welcomes the NFL Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks to the East Room of the White House. / AP photo

The Seahawks visited the White House today and met with President Barack Obama in the East Room. It appears everyone who was on the team, other than Marshawn Lynch, showed up for the event.

President Obama’s speechwriters did an excellent job of putting in details. Some highlights:

> The President referenced Brandon Mebane’s belly roll and said it was not allowed in the White House.

> He mentioned the receivers being referred to as pedestrian, saying it made “Angry Doug Baldwin even angrier.”

> The President talked about the noise at CenturyLink Field and the 12th Man. Prior to his arrival, a “Sea-Hawks!” chant came up in the East Room as the players took the stage.

> In mentioning Lynch, the President said he was disappointed Lynch did not show because he admired the way he handled the press and wanted to talk to him about it.

> President Obama asked general manager John Schneider where the heavyweight championship belt was.

> The President also pointed out Richard Sherman’s background of coming up from Compton, to Stanford to his current stature as something for kids to look at and emulate.

Here’s the full transcript:

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary


East Room 2:20 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: All right, everybody have a seat. Welcome to the White House. (Applause.) Let’s give it up for this quiet, reserved bunch called the Seattle Seahawks. (Applause.) World champions. Best football team in America. (Applause.) I considered letting Sherman up here to the podium today — (laughter) — giving him the mic, but we’ve got to go in a little bit. (Laughter.)

Obviously we’ve got some big Seahawks fans here today. (Applause.) That includes — I know there are some members of Congress here who are huge Seahawks fans. We’ve also got the Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, who is a big Seahawks fan. (Applause.) We’ve got Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in the house, a big Seahawks fan. (Applause.) I want to congratulate Coach Pete Carroll for his outstanding leadership. I think those of us who are in leadership positions across disciplines, we’re always looking at folks who do things the right way. I think it’s pretty clear that Coach Carroll does things the right way and we’re very proud of him. Seahawks owner Paul Allen, who has done a great job, congratulations to him. (Applause.) We’ve got General Manager John Schneider who put together this outstanding organization, but I’m curious where the championship belt is today, John. (Laughter.)

We are here to celebrate the first Super Bowl victory for the city of Seattle. (Applause.) During the regular season, the Seahawks tied for the best record. Suffocating defense led to — led the league in points allowed, yards allowed, interceptions, takeaways, turnover margin. They beat the rival 49ers — (applause) — I knew you guys would clap on that one — (laughter) — in the NFC Championship game, and then dominated one of the best offenses in the NFL, beating the Broncos by 35 points. (Applause.)

Of course, I don’t need to tell you how outstanding the Seahawks are because they did a pretty good job of describing themselves as outstanding during the year. (Applause.) You may have heard about the Legion of Boom — (laughter) — Richard Sherman, and Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor, and Byron Maxwell, who combined to form the best secondary in football. You had a dominating defensive line with guys like Michael Bennett and Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane -– and Brandon Mebane’s belly roll dance — (laughter) — all combining to — we can’t do that here in the White House. (Laughter.)

There’s Super Bowl MVP Malcom Smith. (Applause.) You’ve got breakout star Percy Harvin. (Applause.) He’s not here today, but we’ve got to give props to Beast Mode — Marshawn Lynch. (Applause.) I am sorry that Marshawn is not here, because I just wanted to say how much I admire his approach to the press. (Laughter.) I wanted to get some tips from him. (Laughter.) It’s about the action. (Laughter.)

And then there’s Russell Wilson, who you may not recognize because his locks are shorn — he has cut his hair. (Laughter.) Where is Russell? There he is. (Applause.) I was telling him he looks okay this way too. He doesn’t have a peanut head or anything. (Laughter.)

So Russell has won more games through his first two seasons than any quarterback in history. (Applause.) He also became only the second African American quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl. And the best part about it is nobody commented on it, which tells you the progress that we’ve made, although we’ve got more progress to make. (Applause.)

And part of the reason that I think Russell inspired a lot of folks is he’s been proving the doubters wrong for a very long time. For years, folks said he’d be too short to succeed as a quarterback in the NFL. Five quarterbacks were drafted ahead of him, which is a familiar story for a lot of these Seahawks. You got three starters in the secondary who were taken fifth round or lower. Nineteen players on the roster weren’t drafted at all. Last year, a pundit had the gall to call the receiving corps “pedestrian,” which I heard made “Angry Doug Baldwin” even angrier. (Laughter.)

So let me just say as a guy who was elected President named Barack Obama, I root for the underdogs. (Applause.) And 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. And that’s what team is all about. And this is a team.

And it’s not just about football. These guys have been overcoming adversity off the field as well. They’ve got fullback Derrick Coleman, who has been legally deaf since he was three years old. I joke about Richard Sherman, but he grew up in Compton amid some wonderful people, but also gangs and drugs and guns. His dad had to wake up before 4 a.m. every day to drive a garbage truck. But because of his dad’s hard work and his family, and his mom, Richard ended up earning a 4.2 GPA in high school. He won a scholarship to Stanford. (Applause.) He showed kids from his neighborhood that they could make it. And if he seems a little brash, it’s because you’ve got to have attitude sometimes if you are going to overcome some of this adversity. And the fact that he still goes back to inspire high schoolers for higher goals and making better choices, that’s all-star behavior.

And he’s not the only one giving back. Russell spends every Tuesday — even during the season — visiting sick kids at the Seattle Children’s Hospital. Coach Carroll’s “A Better Seattle” and “A Better LA” organization works to keep at-risk youth away from drugs and violence. Paul Allen’s Family Foundation has given millions of dollars for medical research into traumatic brain injuries, which obviously is a concern in the NFL, but also is a concern to our troops and people all across the country. As a team, the Seahawks raised more than $700,000 this year for causes like supporting our troops and strengthening our schools.

And that spirit of working hard and giving back has endeared this team to its fans in a way that most cities can’t replicate. Now, part of it is you all have that stadium that is kind of cheating, because it’s so loud. (Laughter.) You hired some physicist to make it so. (Laughter and applause.) There are a lot of really smart people at Microsoft and up in those places that can design these things. (Laughter.)

So we can’t talk about the Seahawks without talking about the 12th Man. (Applause.) Last season, “the 12s” set a record not once, but twice, for the loudest crowd noise in history. (Laughter.) Now, history is a long time, so that’s really loud. (Laughter.) So loud on multiple occasions, they’ve actually created minor earthquakes, which is disturbing. And you should think about that. (Laughter.) After the Super Bowl, when they had the chance to celebrate, they let loose in true Seattle style. And while some got a little carried away, there’s actually video of a huge group of Seahawks fans interrupting their celebration to wait for the walk sign before crossing an intersection. (Laughter and applause.) So that’s Seattle for you. (Laughter.)

So congratulations to the 12s, congratulations to the players, the coaches, the staff, the owners. Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks and the whole city for an outstanding season. (Applause.)

Leave a comment Comments → 37
  1. Macabrevity says:

    Speaking neutrally, don’t want to get into politics, Obama’s thing was always his charisma as a speaker, but he looked worn out and barely present, while Pete looked and sounded sharp and alive. Pete would be a pretty good politician if he ever threw his hat in the ring. And I mean that from the positive sense of the word.

  2. Skavage says:

    I think it speaks volumes about our team and the organization that all the “former” players came to this celebration. Most years the guys that were lost to free agency or cut don’t show up for the White House visit. This is just one more way that it shows how well the PC/JS method is working. Congrats to them and congrats to the entire organization. Well done!

  3. Southendzone says:

    I thought Obama looked OK, but I’m sure overall he’s worn out. I bet it was nice to get to do something sort of fun rather than the usual crap.

    That job has to be hell, who would ever run for a 2nd term?

    anyways, Pete did look pretty sharp, and overall the players looked a bit star-struck to me.

  4. Dukeshire says:

    “Obama’s speechwriters’” (no need for punctuation here…)is curious to me. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that Obama is a huge sports fan so there’s a reasonably good chance he is well aware of the content of his speech without his “speechwriters'”. IN any case… it was awesome to see theme there. Still just blown away Seattle actually won a Super Bowl.

  5. pabuwal says:

    I figured someone wrote that speech for him with facts provided from the Seahawks. I assume he has better things to do with his time.

    I found it funny and very well done.

  6. Southendzone says:

    Browner got screwed though when Obama listed the members of the LOB, he didn’t say Browner’s name…

  7. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Aldon Smith pleads no contest.

    Will he get further suspended?

  8. akjester says:

    Next time Wilson makes it to the White House, he needs a better hair cut.

  9. chrisj122 says:

    My work place has a few Seahawk haters, so I used today’s White House visit as an opportunity to mess with them.

    I made up a story about the Seahawk visit, I told my Seahawk hating co-workers that: “President Obama has made an executive order to honor the Super Bowl Champions by painting the White House Wolf Grey for the period of one year.”

    I then had some people that I know are Facebook friends with my co-workers to post the samething and perpetuate the rouse.

    Yes, sometimes work can be boring…….

  10. Without being political, I think taking over after the Bush years (for two terms), and dealing with this House and Congress would wear even the Uber-Optimist Pet Carrol out. At least Obama and his speech writers were able to make some informed jokes. It shows the Seahawks are relevant on the National Stage, for only the second time since the Salad Days of Chuck Knox’s early success; and thats pretty cool.

    Was Tate there?

    Too bad Lynch didnt show. Im really surprised he didnt go, notwithstanding his aversion to press.

  11. akjester–It would seem RW will have a new haircut as often as possible. There’s worse ways to deal with a divorce…

  12. montanamike2 says:

    GeorgiaHawk it’s unbelievable the different standards they are held to compared to us, if you listen to Harbaugh, we are bad role models while the Whiners are getting nothing done for some serious stuff! Aldon has to be suspended for this one, i mean…..

  13. montanamike2 says:

    Tate was there but looked bummed out to not be with the team anymore, plus he went to Detroit! Everyone else was all smiles.

  14. montanamike2 says:

    If i did a fraction of what he’s done, even just the bomb threat, you guys wouldn’t be hearing from me for a while.

  15. chrisj122 says:


  16. Southendzone says:

    DA says max term Aldon can face is 4 years and 4 months. However its up to thejudge, and his no contest plea is supposed to help him out somehow.

  17. Screw Browner, he would a been high anyway. Despite as team the hawks include all secondary in the legion of boom, others outside the hawks look at the starting 4 DB’s and don’t even include the nickel back. And when it comes to the starting 4 or even the nickel, Browner was nowhere to be found the last 4 games of the season and for all 3 playoff games. Maxwell had stepped in and did so well, Browner was never going to get his starting spot back. The truth is Maxwell was a better CB by the time the playoffs began, and he proved it in the playoffs. Browner just like last year down the stretch failed to be one of the legion of boom, instead he was just another PUP.

  18. Little reporting work for my fellow blog denizens…

    I work a block away from the White House so I went down around 2:30 ET to see what was up and sure enough around the back side of the White House were the buses. The Secret Service guy was cool (“I’m from Seattle — I’m gonna do something nice for you guys”) and so let a bunch of us (originally maybe just 30 or 40 but but the end probably like 150) right up to the fence along side the buses, so we saw everyone when they came out. Have to say, Golden was one of the most gracious, he signed a bunch of stuff for people and chatted a bit. Doug, Kam, Chop Chop, BWagz, BMax, Bennett, Schneider among those who did too. No sign of Earl, Sherm or RW, interestingly, but almost everyone else seemed to come out to the buses. Was cool to see the guys like Browner, Big Red and Clem with the gang one more time, Mike Rob too. There was almost kind of a ruefulness with those guys, they seemed more bummed than happy, I guess that makes sense. Anyway, couple of observations:

    1) Malcolm Smith was in a walking boot, where did that come from?? Did we know that? I can’t remember anything about him being hurt. He almost looked like he was trying to hide it, too.

    2) Okung seemed to be getting around OK, as did Kam.

    3) Pete spent more time signing and shaking hands, by far, than anyone else. He was cool, thanking fans. Just seems like he digs people and likes to schmooze. And genuinely appreciative.

    4) Jesse Williams dresses funny. Really odd.

    5) We all know Breno is big, but Kellen Davis is HUGE.

    6) People cannot tell the difference between Sidney and Sherm. Many — these are nominally fans, mind you — thought Sidney was Sherm. You got the sense this was not the first time it has happened to Sidney. He, by the way, moved a little stiffly, am sure he’s not all they way back yet.

    7) Was interesting to see Browner’s tweet about feeling pissed that Obama left him out of the LOB, because man he seemed surly on his way out. Makes sense now.

    8) Hauschka easily wins the award for most likely to be confused with a White House employee. For example, Maragos still looks like a football player. Steve looks like a policy analyst.

  19. pez – Thanks.

  20. DanielleMND says:

    “Was interesting to see Browner’s tweet about feeling pissed that Obama left him out of the LOB”

    Browner, you let your team down two years in a row. You weren’t a member of the LOB that night in February because you were suspended.

  21. montanamike2 says:

    seriously, Browner screwed up 2 years in a row when we needed him most, if he feels dissed, he deserves it. I agree that Maxwell was a blessing to come from that and he’s a damn good CB too.

  22. pabuwal says:

    Good report pez. Most of the guys you mentioned as talking with the fans also did so after the Super Bowl. And Carroll’s thing has always been to try to make the fans happy whenever he can – that’s been his thing since NYJ.

    Sherman, Wilson and Thomas had a special meeting before the session with Michelle Obama which explains why they weren’t on the bus.

    And in terms of confusing Rice with Sherman I think I did it right after the Super Bowl as well. As soon as Rice came closer, I realized it wasn’t Sherman (but still forgot Rice was with the team). I assumed it was Sherman’s brother. Maybe it was and I am still confused?

  23. jawpeace says:

    Not really a fan of Obama but I thought he and his writers did a great job of honoring the world Super Bowl Champs your Seattle Sea Hawks.

  24. pabs – I thought you confused Breno with ET. lol

  25. akjester says:

    great comment, pez. That would have been awesome to see the whole team. I find it amazing how well we actually recognize football considering the gear they wear for games. If two guys looked superficially the same without the gear on, I am sure I would be confused.

  26. boucherm says:

    I just love it that all the departed guys were along to the White House, even though they’re not on the team now, it’s important to recognize the ways they contributed.
    As for Browner, I, too, was a little disappointed that the President left him off his LOB list. I agree that he let the team down, but this we can’t deny: He’s a mother f-ing charter member.

  27. I dont blame Browner for being pissed, but its his own damned fault. I also think its unfair to say he wasnt part of the LOB–he helped make it what it is, and without him it wouldnt have happened. Why do you think, good as Maxwell is, they are trying to find a BB clone is Pinkins and make him a corner? They are planning to let Maxwell walk, because they want another cheap Huge Beast like BB manhandling guys opposite Sherm. Thats what the LOB is. Maxwell is a fine player, but he’s really not a true LOB guy, and wont be after this year.

    Also, Browners play last season was bound to be a result of the stress of knowing he was likely to be suspended before the year was out. I guarantee he will play better for the Pats next year. He’s a good player, though a bit limited.

    Seattle originally wanted Maxwell as a nickel back, but he’s better outside; still, he’s not the guy they want playing outside corner and they will let him walk.

  28. jchawks08 says:

    I think the only reason the Hawks would let Maxwell walk is because they won’t be able to pay him what he’ll be worth. His sample size is still relatively small, but to say he’s not a LOB guy is just silly. All he did was put up numbers. Good numbers. Who gives a rip if he is a hard-hitter or walks around with an attitude or not? Can he play CB at a Pro Bowl Level? Sure seems like it.
    This year will be telling for sure. But I’m sticking to my thoughts that we won’t keep him only because we can’t afford him.

  29. jchawks08–Maxwell is a fine player, as I said. But no, he’s not a LOB member, or if he is, its in name only. He doesnt deliver the “Boom”, so how can he be a true LOB member?

    And yeah, I think PC cares that he isnt a hard hitter and lacks swagger. I think its part of the reason they will let him walk, not just his increasing price tag. They like him fine, but they will be ok with him leaving and then they will find a guy who can really jam WR’s at the line, and lay the wood–Pinkins, or someone like him.

    Just my thoughts, Im not saying my opinions are law or anything…

  30. jchawks08 says:

    So as long as Pinkins or someone else can walk around with swagger and lay the wood meaning after the WR has caught the ball, then they’re LOB worthy. Got it.
    LOL! Yea, I’m not with ya on this one.
    Personally I’m hoping Maxwell can keep up his double digit INT’s per 16 games played pace and play at an extremely high level all year long.

  31. jchawks08 says:

    Also, within the Seahawks locker room, each member of the Defensive Backfield has a LOB locker mat. Each of them are considered members of the LOB.

  32. Southendzone says:

    According to Sherman Max is a member of the legion. According to Sherm all those that have passed through are members, including Thurmond, Lane, etc.

    What specifically does Maxwell have to do to “Deliver the boom?” If it’s lay hard hits on people, then take Sherman out of the legion because that’s not his forte. Maxwell is a big CB and his knack for punching the ball out is pretty cool.

    The legion is a brotherhood that’s formed in the locker room & on the practice field and none of us have any say in who is in or out.

    To say that Browner has only himself to blame is to infer that Obama purposefully left him out of mention on purpose due to his suspension. That’s a pretty big leap to make.

  33. I thought the Maxwell play where he forced the fumble against Thomas in the Super Bowl was LOB material for sure.

  34. DanielleMND says:

    Obama listed the starting secondary from the Super Bowl. It wasn’t a slight against Browner. Browner needs to get over it.

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