WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Wednesday welcomed the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens to the White House, congratulating the team on its unlikely Super Bowl run -- and offering some good-natured jibes along the way.
At a South Lawn event, Obama praised the team not only for the goal line stand that sealed its second Super Bowl trophy but its charitable work in blue collar Baltimore.
Quarterback Joe Flacco was singled out for winning the Super Bowl's most valuable player -- and a miracle touchdown pass at a playoff game in Denver -- which helped him win a huge $100 million-plus contract in the off-season. "Good timing with that contract up," Obama said. The greying Obama praised safety Ed Reed for the Super Bowl's only interception, though he noted Reed's sprouting some grey hairs of his own. "You're looking like an old man," Obama said.
And the president cited legendary linebacker Ray Lewis for returning from injury to lead the defence in the playoffs -- but only after kidding Lewis that he thought his arm injury came from the motivational dance he performed at every home game. They shared a bear hug after the event.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh gave Obama, the 44th president, the traditional team jersey emblazoned "MR PRESIDENT" and the number 44. Obama wished the team luck but warned them they'll face a tough game against his beloved Bears when they visit Chicago in November.
Harbaugh kept his remarks brief but he had a welcome message for the assembled Ravens fans: "I want you to know that we have plans to come back (to the White House) next year."
Obama also praised the players for their charitable work.
"You'll see players spending their Tuesdays -- normally their only day off during the season -- visiting hospitals and schools and senior centres, and day after day, you'll see a team that loves Baltimore as much as Baltimore loves the Ravens," Obama said.