Obama praises Seahawks’ ‘Legion of Boom’

President Obama welcomed the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks to the White House on Wednesday for a celebration heavy on chants and flags and notably bereft of selfies.

Obama congratulated the Seahawks, who beat the Denver Broncos in February to claim Seattle's first Super Bowl title, though fans at the White House cheered louder when the president cited the team's win over the San Francisco 49ers in this year's NFC championship game. Obama highlighted the "Legion of Boom," the nickname the team's vaunted defense adopted en route to a 13-3 record in the regular season.

Obama highlighted quarterback Russell Wilson, the second African American quarterback to win a Super Bowl after Washington's Doug Williams. "The best part about" Wilson's achievement, Obama said, "is nobody commented on it, which tells you the progress that we've made, although we've got more progress to make."

The president joked that he had learned a thing or two from the team of brash upstarts and underdogs, many of whom were overlooked or dismissed by other teams.

"As a guy who was elected president named Barack Obama, I root for the underdogs," he said.

Fans waiting to be let into the White House, many decked out in Seahawks jerseys and several wearing traditional Native American headdresses representing tribes from the Puget Sound region, were made to leave souvenir footballs behind before clearing security.

Once inside, the president said he took special note of running back Marshawn Lynch, who was fined by the NFL this season for refusing to speak to the media.

"I just wanted to say how much I admire his approach to the press," Obama said of Lynch, who did not join the team at the White House. "I wanted to get some tips from him."

Cornerback Richard Sherman did attend the ceremony, and Obama joked he had considered allowing the outspoken Stanford graduate to take the mic.

"I considered letting Sherman up here to the podium today, giving him the mic, but we've got to go in a little bit," Obama said.

The team presented Obama with flags reading "12," a reference to fans who make CenturyLink Field in Seattle so loud they are dubbed the 12th man. Obama shook hands with quarterback Russell Wilson, coach Pete Carroll, owner Paul Allen and a handful of Seahawks in the front row.

Many of the players took photos of the president, but none snagged a selfie, a nod, perhaps, to another congratulatory event last month when Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz took a photo with Obama that turned out to be a marketing stunt for Samsung.

Reps. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) attended the event, as did Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, a former Seattle resident.

Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), a big sports fan whose district includes the Seahawks stadium, did not attend. At the same time Obama was congratulating the Seahawks, Smith was on Capitol Hill with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who named Smith as one of five members to the Select Committee on Benghazi.

Obama said Seattle's fans represent the spirit of the city. A viral YouTube video of celebrations after the Seahawks crushed the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl showed a huge crowd of fans stopping at an intersection and waiting for a traffic light to change before politely crossing in the crosswalk.

"That's Seattle for you," Obama joked.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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