President Obama Welcomes the New Orleans Saints

President Obama Welcomes the New Orleans Saints


The President:
Well, welcome, everybody. Please have a seat, have a seat. It is wonderful
to see all of you. Welcome, and congratulations to
the 2009 Super Bowl Champions — the New Orleans Saints. (applause) I want to start by recognizing
some folks in my administration who are big fans of this
team — Lisa Jackson – (applause) — from the EPA; Secretary
Donovan from HUD; — (applause) — Craig Fugate from FEMA. (applause) We’ve got a few very
proud members of Congress with us — Senator Mary Landrieu – (applause) — and Representative Steve
Scalise are in the house. (applause) Congratulations to the owner,
Tom Benson, who has led this team through times that would
test anybody; and General Manager Mickey Loomis, for
building this extraordinary championship squad. Congratulations to your
outstanding head coach, Sean Payton, who’s done
just great work. (applause) I must point out Sean
is a Chicago guy. (laughter) I’m just saying. (laughter) By way of Naperville. You’ve got to be tough
to be a Chicago guy. I make some tough decisions
every day, but I never decided on an onside kick in the
second half of the Super Bowl. (applause) That took some guts. Were you okay with that? Did he check off with you? (laughter) I’m glad that thing
went all right. (laughter) Coach Payton led this team to a
remarkable season: 13-0 start, a franchise record for wins; a
heck of an overtime win in the NFC Championship. And then after falling behind in
the Super Bowl, with the onside kick, huge second half;
Tracy Porter’s interception guaranteeing that the Lombardi
Trophy would go to the city of New Orleans for the
very first time. It was an unbelievable moment. (applause) I want to congratulate the Super
Bowl MVP, your quarterback, your captain — Drew Brees. (applause) I have to say all of us were
very excited after the game — all my wife wanted to talk about
was Baylen, that little boy sitting with Drew, and everybody
going, “Awww,” (laughter) — which, I’m just saying, you
made a lot of fans then. (laughter) Drew and his wife, Brittany, are
expecting their second child in October. So, congratulations to you both. (applause) Drew threw six touchdowns in
the opening weekend, making it pretty clear that the
Saints were coming to play. And over the course of the
season, he set a new NFL record for accuracy, completing more
than 70 percent of his passes. I have a few staffers who were
thrilled to have Drew on their fantasy team. (laughter) So they are grateful for that. And by the way, this is not
Drew’s first time to the White House. Last year, we filmed a PSA
some of you may have seen, encouraging America’s youth
to get 60 minutes of physical activity every day. He tossed me a nice tight spiral
that I then lateraled to a kid on DeMarcus Ware’s shoulders. I also want to point out I beat
Troy Polamalu over the middle on that throw. (laughter) You remember. (laughter) I’m not sure he was
going top speed, but – (laughter) Finally, Drew has agreed to
serve as co-chair of the new President’s Council on
Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. And I want to thank all the
players who put on a clinic earlier this morning with
children from the Boys and Girls Club as part of the Let’s Move
and the NFL’s Play60 program. So, thank you very much, guys,
for participating in that. (applause) So this was an
unbelievable season. After decades of frustration,
the Saints finally won the big one. The “ain’ts” and the “sad sacks”
gave way to the “Who Dats.” Local musicians even gave a jazz
funeral to retire the “ain’ts” nickname. But I think we all know that
this season meant far more than that to the City of New Orleans
— and to all Americans, really. Look, I’m a Bears fan. I’m not going to lie. (laughter) But this was a big win for the
country — not just for New Orleans — because five years ago, this team played its entire season on the road. It didn’t have a home field. The Superdome had been
ruined by Hurricane Katrina. The heartbreaking tragedies that
unfolded there when it was used as a shelter from that terrible
storm lingered all too fresh in a lot of people’s minds. And back then, people didn’t
even know if the team was coming back. People didn’t know if
the city was coming back. Not only did the team come back
— it took its city’s hands and helped its city
back on its feet. This team took the hopes and the
dreams of a shattered city and placed them squarely
on its shoulders. And so these guys became more
than leaders in the locker room — they became leaders
of an entire region. And the victory parade that we
saw earlier this year made one thing perfectly clear, that New
Orleans and the New Orleans Saints are here to stay. So plenty of cities carry their
sports teams through a tough season. It’s a rare thing when a sports
team carries a city through tough times. And that’s why there’s such
a deep bond between this organization and the city. I’m not sure there’s any other
city that feels that same way right now. And that’s not just for what the
Saints have done on the field, but what they’ve done off it to
see that the city keeps rising. In fact, NFL Commissioner Roger
Goodell recently said that every team in professional sports
should use the Saints as a model for how to interact
with their community. This entire team has worked with
Habitat for Humanity to rebuild neighborhoods in New Orleans. Many of these guys and the
coaches and the players run foundations to help
children in need. All of them are off to Walter
Reed later this morning to spend some time with wounded warriors
who served our country. And obviously the Gulf region
has spent the last few months besieged by yet another crisis. But last week we received the
news that we had hoped for. Yesterday, we learned that a
procedure to prevent any more oil from spilling with a cement
plug appears to have succeeded. And the final steps will be
taken later in August when the relief well is completed. But what is clear is that the
battle to stop the oil from flowing into the Gulf
is just about over. Our work goes on, though. I made a commitment to the
people of the Gulf Coast that I would stand by them not just
until the well was closed but until they recovered from
the damage that’s been done. And that’s a commitment my
administration is going to keep. So with the ongoing reopening of
Gulf fisheries, we’re excited that fishermen can go back
to work and Americans can confidently and safely enjoy
Gulf seafood once again. We’re certainly going to enjoy
it here at the White House. In fact, we had some yesterday. While they’re here today,
several Saints players are going to spend some time teaching
our staff their favorite Gulf seafood recipes. So who’s cooking? (laughter) Which one — it’s
you back there? All right. (laughter and applause) And Sam Kass, the White House
— he’s very excited, he’s very excited. And after weeks of hearing about
food from our response teams down in the Gulf, I can tell you
that our staff is excited about the 30-foot po’ boy we’re
serving at lunch today. (laughter) But let me just say in closing,
we are very proud of this team, and we are very proud of the
owner of this team, because it required a great commitment on
your part to help pull this team and this city along. And so there is a heartfelt
congratulations not just from those of us here in the White
House, but I think all across America. These are big guys with big
hearts, and shoulders big enough to carry the hopes and dreams
of an entire city with them. So with that, congratulations to
all of you — the New Orleans Saints, 2009 Super
Bowl Champions. Congratulations. (applause) Drew Brees:
On behalf of our team and our organization we would like to present President Obama
with number 44. The President:
Number 44! (cheering and applause) Drew Brees:
The only time in history the 44th President will receive a Saints 44 Jersey. (applause)

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