INDIANAPOLIS – In observance of President’s Day, Colts.com is taking a look back at a very special day at the White House.
On April 23, 2007, the Colts were honored by President George W. Bush after winning Super Bowl XLI over Chicago, 29-17.
In what is a tradition for champions in many different sports spanning a number of presidencies, the Colts were the team of the day in the nation’s capital.
Many members of the playing roster were accompanied by coaches and staff for the ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House.
After landing in Washington around 10:30 a.m., the Colts first visited the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The traveling party was split into groups that visited with injured service members who were in rehabilitative stages.
The hour-long visit on three different floors was met with rabid enthusiasm by the injured soldiers who appreciated seeing players from the sport many followed while deployed away from home.
Often viewed by fans as heroes, our players were seeing true heroes.
The Colts’ entourage arrived at the White House around 12:30 p.m., and it was a beautiful spring day for the ceremony.
One week prior to the visit, President Bush’s schedule was marred by the terrible shootings at Virginia Tech. Though the president had a busy schedule, a relatively quiet day allowed for ample time for the program.
President Bush met with a small group of club officials in the Oval Office while the rest of the team toured parts of the White House.
Joseph Addai took the chance to chide Peyton Manning that he had been there before. Addai had been part of the LSU football contingent that visited after winning the 2003 national championship. Manning kept asking Joe to knock it off since it was his first time visiting on such an occasion. Joe enjoyed applying the needle.
It was a great time seeing the White House in a way many people never will have the chance to do so. The team congregated in the East Room, where many players took pictures under portraits of past presidents.
Players had very respectful reactions of the opportunity and chatted with those on duty in the White House prior to the official ceremony.
After about an hour in the White House, the team assembled on the South Lawn and waited for President Bush to arrive.
The club wanted to present him with a jersey and a specially-made wooden Stetson.
As many presidents are, Mr. Bush was pleasant, witty and a warm host. He took about 15 minutes to congratulate the team on its achievement and to point out how the team had gone about winning a championship with character.
When the ceremonies were completed, Tony Dungy was to participate in an on-line chat, while Bill Polian, Manning, Gary Brackett,
When the group was ready to meet the reporters, it was ushered past the Rose Garden when a special moment occurred.
Someone to the left whistled like a coach and shouted, “Hey, where are you boys going?”
It was President Bush standing with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, and he was holding a door open.
He motioned for the contingent to join him, and we passed through the door and into the Oval Office.
Having home turf advantage in the truest sense, President Bush spent 25 minutes telling the group stories about the Oval Office and moments related to him and other presidents.
President Bush talked about the artwork, how each president chooses the color scheme (in his case bright yellow to signify a dawning day), and he spent time explaining decorations that adorned his office.
He spoke about his desk which went back through many presidencies. It was the same desk President Kennedy used and was shown in an iconic photo with his son.
A White House photographer captured the action, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush joined the group.
To this day, a few of us can recall President Bush’s comments almost word-for-word. It was very compelling private moment and most gracious on his part.
President Bush shook everyone’s hands as the occasion adjourned. It was off to the on-line chat and the assembled reporters.
President Bush was not the first to host a sports team and he is not the last. It is a special moment when the leader of the free world can make time for small ceremonies.
Thank you again, sir, and here’s hoping the Colts get that moment again. If so, we can take Joe Addai with us again. He knows the layout quite well.
Happy President’s Day.