09 01 2014
  12:33 am  
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Healthy youth
Seahawks at White House

 

PHOTO:Screen grab from video of President's Obama's speech to the Seattle Seahawks. View the video below.

President Obama welcomed the Seattle Seahawks to the White House Wednesday, in honor of their Super Bowl win this past season. It was the first championship in the team's 38-year history. 

The Seahawks were tied for the best record in the regular season, and the team's “suffocating defense” led the NFL in points allowed, yards allowed, interceptions, and takeaways. It also led to the team's 43-8 rout in the Super Bowl over the Denver Broncos, who had the highest-scoring offense of any team in the regular season. The President praised the Seahawks for their work off the field as well as on it.

“That spirit of working hard and giving back has endeared this team to its fans in a way few cities can replicate,” he said.

What the President said:

“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.  You may have heard about the Legion of Boom –  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 … we can’t do that here in the White House. 

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

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

So Russell has won more games through his first two seasons than any quarterback in history.  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. 

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.   

So let me just say as a guy who was elected President named Barack Obama, I root for the underdogs.  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.  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.”

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