Super Bowl XLI Champion Colts Visit White House
WASHINGTON, D.C. - This day, they'll long remember.
The Colts, who over the past three months have been honored in various ways for their victory in Super Bowl XLI in February, on Monday received what Colts President Bill Polian said was the greatest honor of all:
A visit to the White House.
The Colts spent about two hours at the White House Monday afternoon, with President Bush delivering a 10-minute speech commemorating the team's first Super Bowl title in 36 seasons.
“I couldn’t be prouder to welcome the (Colts) to the South Lawn of the White House,” President Bush said.
“It’s a great honor to be here,” Polian said afterward, adding that the visit was, “A thrill of a lifetime for many of us.”
The Colts visited Walter Reed Army Hospital early Monday afternoon, then arrived at the White House around 2:30 p.m. President Bush addressed the team and a small gathering of notable political figures and other guests from about 3:15 until about 3:35 p.m.
“To know that we’re representing the National Football League, that’s an awesome feeling,” Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said. “We’ve been very, very proud all year - proud of our team – but today, I’m even more proud of our group. We have a tremendous group.”
After President Bush spoke to the gathering, Colts Owner and
Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay presented President Bush with a ceremonial Chris Ramsey-designed Stetson cowboy hat with a blue, Colts horseshoe on the front. The hat was signed by Irsay, Dungy and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, the Super Bowl XLI Most Valuable Player.
Dungy then presented President Bush, the 43rd President, with a blue-jersey, white-numbered Colts No. 43 jersey.
Dungy, asked afterward if the Colts would return to the White House next year, smiled.
“That’s what our plan is,” Dungy said. “We’re working on that part to fit. We have 31 other teams that are shooting for it. That’s the neat thing about it. Everybody starts the season with that goal. We’ve had that goal for five years, and just made it the fifth time.”
After the ceremony, five Colts players – defensive end Dwight Freeney, Manning, center Jeff Saturday, kicker Adam Vinatieri and middle linebacker Gary Brackett – and Dungy and Polian spent about 20 minutes in the Oval Office with President Bush.
“We really had a great visit with him,” Manning said. “We spent 20 minutes in there, just kind of learning about the history of the Oval Office, why he has every picture where, the whole theme of the room.
“Winning a Super Bowl a few months ago – I thought it was about as special as it could get, but I’m not sure it could actually beat what happened today.”