Baltimore Ravens visit White House

In an earlier version of this blog post, the Ravens were incorrectly identified as a wild-card team in the playoffs. Baltimore won the AFC North and was the fourth seed in the AFC.

Updated, 1:30 p.m:

There was a reunion of sorts on the South Lawn of the White House today, when legendary defenders Ray Lewis and Ed Reed rejoined the Baltimore Ravens, as President Obama honored the Super Bowl champions.

Lewis did no dance, and Reed held back his trademark postseason vocals, and, really, only the president seemed in character for the drama of last year’s NFL playoffs.

“I’m the only one wearing purple,” Obama said.

The Ravens, a wild-card team the AFC North winners who struggled through last year’s regular season, advanced in the playoffs with a series of upsets and comebacks, before holding off the San Francisco 49ers’ comeback in a 34-31 win at New Orleans’s Superdome on Feb. 3.

On Wednesday, Obama referenced the Ravens’ memorable goal-line stand, in which the 49ers were stopped on four consecutive tries inside Baltimore’s 10-yard line. It was Lewis’s and Reed’s last defensive stand as Ravens; Lewis, who turned 38 last month, retired after 17 seasons, and Reed, 34, signed a free-agent contract this offseason with the Houston Texans.

“I will point out that Ed’s getting some gray hair, though,” Obama said, turning toward the safety standing behind him. “… That makes me feel better. I thought I was the only guy.”

With two games remaining in the 2012 regular season, the Ravens were 9-5 and on the verge of missing the playoffs. Quarterback Joe Flacco, whose contract was expiring after the season, was often criticized, and the offensive problems prompted Baltimore coach John Harbaugh to fire Cam Cameron, his offensive coordinator and longtime friend.

The Ravens finished 10-6, sneaking into the playoffs, defeating Indianapolis in the first round and stunning the Denver Broncos a week later after a breakdown in Denver’s secondary. Flacco found wide receiver Jacoby Jones for a 70-yard touchdown pass late in regulation, and the Ravens won in double overtime.

“Somehow,” Obama said, “he got open.”

Baltimore beat New England in the AFC championship game, setting up a contest between Harbaugh and his brother, 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh. Flacco was excellent in the Super Bowl, passing for 287 yards and completing three touchdown passes.

A month later, the Ravens signed Flacco to a new $120.6 million deal.

“Good timing with that contract, huh?” Obama said. “That was some good timing.”

Before the Ravens headed toward the team bus Wednesday for the ride back to Baltimore, John Harbaugh said the Ravens had eyes on a return trip to the White House in 2014.

“I just want you to know, we have plans to be back next year,” the coach said.

Cindy Boren’s original post from 10:54 a.m.:

The Baltimore Ravens are making a move on Washington, at least briefly.

The Super Bowl champions will be at the White House for a ceremony with President Barack Obama that will be streamed live here at 12:10 p.m. EDT. Among the former Ravens attending are Ray Lewis, who retired after the Super Bowl win, and Ed Reed, now with the Houston Texans.

 

 

Ray Lewis (please let him do the squirrel dance on the South Lawn) and Ozzie Newsome rehydrate:

 

 

The players arrived early and, evidently, had the run of the place.

Terrelll Suggs surveys the scene. (via
Terrelll Suggs surveys the scene. (via @untouchablejay4)

Wide receiver Torrey Smith (yes, he cut his trademark braids earlier this spring) in particular living it up, as you can see by his Twitter feed. (Later this week, the Ravens will get their championship rings.)

(via @torreysmithwr)
(via @torreysmithwr)

Smith, who’s from Virginia and played at the University of Maryland, also caught up with a former president with commonwealth roots.


(via @torreysmithwr)

He also found another familiar face.


(via @torreysmithwr)

Smith seems kind of like a natural at this.


(via @torreysmithwr)

The Ravens have been here before; they celebrated their last Super Bowl victory with George W. Bush in 2001 — 12 years and three days ago.

One of the members of that team, O.J. Brigance, is front and center today. Brigance, who uses a wheelchair because he’s battling Lou Gehrig’s disease, has been an inspirational presence all season.

Follow @CindyBoren on Twitter and on Facebook.

Kent Babb is a sports features writer for The Washington Post.
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