President Obama enjoyed one of the “perks of the job” today, welcoming the 1985 Chicago Bears – “the greatest team in NFL history” – to the White House for a long-overdue celebration in honor of their Super Bowl victory.
“This is as much fun as I will have as president of the United States right here,” Obama said as he stood before he beloved hometown team.
While Super Bowl champions are traditionally honored at the White House, the celebration for the 1985 Bears was cancelled when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded two days after their Super Bowl victory. The president, an avid fan, invited the Bears to finally come to the White House for what he called some “well-deserved and long-overdue recognition” for the team that “changed everything for every team that came on after, on and off the field.”
The president admitted that his blatant bias “might get me in some trouble” in some of the cities that he visits, “but I believe it is the truth!”
“What made this team so captivating wasn’t just that they won, wasn’t just that they dominated – it was the way they did it. Yes, they were punishing. Yes, they were dominant. But they also had a lot of fun. And you could tell they enjoyed playing together,” Obama said, noting that the ’85 Bears are, after all, “the only team in NFL history with a gold record and a Grammy nomination.”
It was suggested that the president dance the team’s famous “Super Bowl Shuffle” at today’s event, honoring the performance that won the music awards.
“Can’t do it,” he said. “But I do remember it. And in Chicago, you could not get away from this song even if you wanted to.”
Obama, who stood next to legendary coach Mike Ditka, reminded the crowd that some people tried to draft Ditka to challenge him when he was running for Senate in 2004.
“I will admit I was a little worried because he doesn’t lose,” the president joked. “Coach, I’m glad you didn’t run, because I have to say I probably would have been terrible on ESPN.”
The president also singled out several of the characters, er, uh, players, that made the team so famous. As the president described Jim McMahon, still sporting his signature headband, as a quarterback with “no fear” who “lived life with very few rules,” McMahon interrupted, “Do you need me to speak?”
The president said that McMahon, who he later asked not to break anything at the White House, gave him a headband earlier today.
“I’m not wearing it but I want you to know that I do have it,” Obama said, to laughter from the crowd.
“And then there was somebody we all revered, and that was Walter Payton,” the president said of the running back. “Even 12 years after we lost him to cancer at the too-young age of 45, Chicago still loves ‘Sweetness.’”
The 1985 team had nine Pro-Bowlers, four future Hall-of-Famers, five if you include Ditka. One of those Hall-of-Famers, however, was noticeably absent today. Dan Hampton declined the president’s invitation, citing his personal dislike of Obama.
“I’m not a fan of the guy in the White House, and … hey, it was 25 years ago. Let it go,” Hampton said last month.
Ditka, however, praised the president as “one of us” and thanked him for finally bringing the team to the White House.
“It’s only 26 years after the fact, and five administrations, but thank you,” he said.