President Obama saluted the NFL's Seattle Seahawks -- winners of Super Bowl XLVIII -- in a ceremony at the White House on Wednesday, praising the players for their contributions on and off the field.
The president noted that many of the team's players were far from number one draft picks, but that they managed to work together to win. "As a guy who was elected president named Barack Obama, I root for the underdogs," he said. "And so seeing folks overcome the odds excites me, but it also excites me when you see the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. And that's what team is all about."
Mr. Obama singled out several players for their strong performance during the season, including quarterback Russell Wilson, who "became only the second African-American quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl."
"And the best part about it is nobody commented on it," the president said, "which tells you the progress we've made, although we've got more progress to make."
He also praised the Seahawks' outspoken cornerback Richard Sherman, saying he considered letting the brash player take the microphone on Wednesday, "but we've got to go in a little bit."
"And it's not just about football," the president added. "These guys have been overcoming adversity off the field as well."
He noted that Sherman grew up in Compton, Calif., surrounded by "gangs and drugs and guns," but he still managed to excel in high school and secure a scholarship to Stanford University.
"He showed kids from his neighborhood that they could make it," the president said. "If he seems a little brash, it's because you've got to have attitude sometimes to overcome this adversity."
Mr. Obama lauded fullback Derrick Coleman, who's been legally deaf since he was three years old and has organized outreach efforts to hearing-impaired youth.
The president also praised the Seahawks' head coach Pete Carroll for his "outstanding leadership."
Carroll, in turn, thanked Mr. Obama for the glowing review, and he said the day's event at the White House was a "very, very special opportunity for us."