President Barack Obama holds up a Denver Broncos team football jersey, as he welcomes the Super Bowl Champions during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, June 6, 2016, to honor the team and their Super Bowl 50 victory. Broncos Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway is at left. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama honored the Denver Broncos at the White House Monday for winning Super Bowl 50 with one of the best defenses of all time and one of the best quarterbacks of all time in Peyton Manning.
The Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers by a score of 24-10. Obama said the victories over the course of the season weren’t always pretty. The Broncos, he noted, won a record 11 games by a touchdown or less.
“You don’t do that without one of the greatest defenses of all time,” Obama said.
Obama reminded the audience in the Rose Garden that he’s a huge Chicago Bears fan. He felt obliged to mention that franchise’s defense from the 1985 Super Bowl champions.
“Elway remembers,” he said, referring to the former quarterback and current general manager of the Broncos, John Elway. “But I’ve got to admit this one was pretty good, too,” Obama said.
Obama singled out Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware for particular praise.
In describing Denver’s offense, Obama said it “always seemed to come up big when it needed to.”
Manning, who decided to retire after an incredible 18-year career, stood directly behind Obama during the ceremony. Obama mentioned several stars of the offensive unit before jokingly stating, “And we can’t forget to mention the heart and soul of this team’s offensive firepower — kicker Brandon McManus.”
Everyone laughed at the omission of Manning from the list of stars, including Manning. But Obama quickly made up for it. He said anybody who has been a football fan during Manning’s tenure has watched one of the greatest Hall of Fame careers ever.
“We were all obviously a little bit disappointed to see him hang it up this spring, but as somebody who is just a little bit older than he is, I was sympathetic to the idea that running around with these guys, you know, it takes its toll,” Obama said. “But it is great to see somebody with a career like that, who always conducted himself on the field and off the field the way he did, be able to go out on top.”
The White House trip has special meaning for one of the stars Obama highlighted in his remarks — wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. In July 2015, Obama commuted the sentence of 46 nonviolent drug offenders, and that group included Thomas’ mother, Katina Smith. She had been in jail since 1999, along with her mother, on drug trafficking charges in Georgia.