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New Orleans Saints Welcomed to the White House


President Obama this morning welcomed the New Orleans Saints to the White House today, to honor their victory in the 2009 Super Bowl and their 2009 season.

The president praised the team and Coach Sean Payton for their Super Bowl win, particularly for the risky play Payton directed in the second half of the game.

"I make some tough decisions every day," Mr. Obama said. "I never decided on an onside kick in the second half of the Super Bowl."

That play was an "unbelievable moment," but the season meant far more to the city of New Orleans and Americans, the president said. After Hurricane Katrina ruined the New Orleans Superdome, the team played its entire 2005 season on the road. Yet the team came back and "took the hopes and dreams of a shattered city and placed it on its shoulders," Mr. Obama said.

"It's a rare thing when a sports team carries a city through tough times," he added.

The president also acknowledged that the Gulf region is still suffering in the aftermath of the BP oil spill, and he said he is committed to standing by Gulf residents not only until the well is permanently sealed, but until all residents have fully recovered.

Mr. Obama was presented with a No. 44 Saints jersey. (The president has already received the jersey in the virtual world -- the video game Madden NFL '11 features the president receiving a "44" jersey from the championship team.)

Earlier in the day, the Saints hosted a football clinic with Washington area children. The team today is also visiting troops and their families at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

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