Obama to Packers: 'This Hurts a Little'

The president and Bears fan greets the world champions to the White House and is given a share of Packers stock. As a part owner, Obama had an idea that certainly wouldn't go over very well with his fellow shareholders.

WASHINGTON — Welcoming the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers to the White House was no easy task for President Barack Obama.

The president is a die-hard fan of the Packers' rivals, the Chicago Bears, the team Green Bay beat in last year's championship game to move on to the Super Bowl.

"I'm just gonna come out and say it," Obama said. "This hurts a little bit. This is a hard thing for a Bears fan to do. It doesn't hurt as much as the NFC Championship Game hurt, but it still hurts."

But in the spirit of sportsmanship, the president welcomed the Packers and some of their fans to the White House for a 10-minute ceremony on Friday. He praised the team for overcoming a slew of injuries throughout the season as they marched toward their fourth Super Bowl victory. He called quarterback Aaron Rodgers potentially one of the best quarterbacks of "all-time." And he recognized their work in the Green Bay community, citing their millions of dollars raised for charity, scholarships given to local students, and support of service members and their families.

The Packers visit to the White House had been delayed because of the National Football League lockout, which ended last month.

Obama singled out Packers cornerback Charles Woodson — but not for his skill on the football field. When Obama traveled to Wisconsin in January, just before the Super Bowl, he received several Packers gifts, including a jersey signed by Woodson that read: "See you at the White House. Go Packers."

"Charles, you're a man of your word," Obama said Friday during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House.

Obama told the Packers to enjoy the fun while it lasts, noting that the Bears have the dates Sept. 25 and Dec. 25 circled on their calendars as their chance to gain revenge.

"If you guys are on a roll by then, just keep in mind there's only one person here who can ground all planes in and out of Green Bay if he has to," Obama joked.

The players then presented Obama a certificate for a share in the team. The Packers are publicly owned, and more than 100,000 stockholders hold shares in the team.

Once he was made a part owner, the president had some suggestions for the team — namely trading their quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers to his beloved Bears.

"Minority owner," was Woodson's retort.

No word on how that suggestion was playing in Obama's hometown, and with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.

Rodgers presented Obama with a No. 1 Packers jersey with a "Commander in Chief" nameplate on the back during the lighthearted ceremony.

Reigning Super Bowl champions typically visit the White House during the offseason, but the Packers' trip was delayed due to the lockout and squeezed in before the team's preseason opener at Cleveland on Saturday. The players arrived in Cleveland at about 6:30 p.m. (Eastern) -- about 24 hours before kickoff.

"We weren't sure we'd have enough time to do this, but I know the guys were all excited once we found out we got to be here," Rodgers said. "It's a long day of travel but it's well worth it to be able to spend time at the White House and meet the president and enjoy the end of that Super Bowl run."

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.

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