By Jordan Schatz, Editor-in-Chief
The WHITE HOUSE – The reigning Super Bowl champs took a short trip down the Baltimore/Washington Parkway Wednesday to pay a visit to the president of the United States.
President Barack Obama, wearing a black suit with a purple tie, welcomed the Baltimore Ravens to the White House, praising the team’s remarkable run en route to capturing the Vince Lombardi Trophy in February. Before the media and a large crowd of close to 500 fans and Ravens’ family members gathered on the South Lawn, Obama praised Baltimore’s resiliency and determination.
“I imagine there were times last year when these players were the only ones who knew that they would make it here to show off this trophy,” Obama said. “During the year, they lost player after player to injury, they dropped four of their last five regular season games and in the playoffs they trailed Denver by a touchdown with 70 yards and less than a minute to go and I still don’t know how (they won).
“In the Super Bowl, just when it looked like they had the momentum, the lights went out for a half hour,” Obama said with a laugh. “But, these Ravens always pull through.”
The president drew laughter when he poked fun at several Ravens in attendance.
“That was some good timing,” Obama told Joe Flacco, referencing the $120.6 million contract that the quarterback signed in the off season following a phenomenal playoff performance in which he threw 11 touchdowns and no interceptions and was named Super Bowl MVP.
When retired linebacker Ray Lewis challenged the president to do the linebacker’s famous pre-game “squirrel dance,” Obama retorted, “No, I’m not doing that dance. It caused (you) to miss most of the season.”
He then warned the team from pulling up grass from the South Lawn, a reference to Lewis’ dance which features the linebacker tearing up the turf and wiping it on his jersey.
Obama even teased departed Raven Ed Reed, noting that the future Hall of Fame safety had more grey hair than he did.
General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh presented the president with a personalized jersey on behalf of the Ravens. Prior to that, Obama, a die hard Chicago Bears fan, wished Baltimore good luck next season against his favorite team.
He then turned the microphone over to Harbaugh.
“On behalf of all the Ravens, I want to thank Mr. President for hosting us all here today,” Harbaugh said. “It’s an unbelievable honor. We are grateful and I want you all to know, we have plans to be back next year.”
Notes: The president honored the strength of Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith for his two-touchdown performance against the New England Patriots in Week 3 only hours after learning his younger brother had been killed in a motorcycle accident.
Following the ceremony, each player shook hands with the president before departing for the team buses.