WASHINGTON – Everyone loves an underdog. President Barack Obama was an unlikely candidate for the oval office in 2008,and at the beginning of the 2013 NFL season,the Seattle Seahawks were unlikely candidates to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The president honored the Seahawks Wednesday for defeating the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Obama said that the team was made up of underdogs who banded together for a common goal.
“You got three starters in the secondary who were taken fifth round or lower,” Obama said of players who were drafted in low rounds. “Nineteen players on the roster weren’t drafted at all. Last year,a pundit had the gall to call the receiving corps ‘pedestrian.’”
The president joked about the brashness of cornerback Richard Sherman: “I considered letting Sherman up here to the podium today,giving him the mic,but we’ve got to go in a little bit.”
Sherman’s enthusiasm in his NFC Championship post-game interview attracted a media whirlwind and some racist reactions. Earlier this month at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner,Obama did his best impression of Sherman’s interview.
But at the White House Obama talked about how Sherman overcame great odds to be successful.
“He grew up in Compton amid some wonderful people,but also gangs and drugs and guns.” Obama said.
“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,” Obama said.
Obama applauded Sherman for his work in his community. “And the fact that he still goes back to inspire high schoolers for higher goals and making better choices,that’s all-star behavior.
Obama praised other underdogs on the team,including fullback Derrick Coleman,who is deaf,and Russell Wilson,who is one of the shorter quarterbacks in the NFL at 5 foot11.
“For years,folks said he’d be too short to succeed as a quarterback in the NFL,” Obama said.
Obama honored the team for its humanitarian efforts,citing Wilson’s weekly visits to Seattle’s Children’s Hospital,head coach Pete Carroll’s A Better Seattle and A Better LA organizations that help kids stay away from the streets,and owner Paul Allen’s foundation,which focuses on traumatic brain injury.
The president joked about the noise level of Seattle’s home stadium,and its crowd,which,he said, “set a record not once,but twice,for the loudest crowd noise in history. Now,history is a long time,so that’s really loud.”
The Seattle Seahawks gave Obama a flag with the number 12 on it.
“So let me just say as a guy who was elected president named Barack Obama,I root for the underdogs. “ Obama said.
Reach Ricardo Guillaume at [email protected] or 202-326-9865. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.