Packers finally get White House visit
Denied the traditional Super Bowl champions' visit to the White House during the NFL lockout, the Green Bay Packers finally are headed to Washington.
The Packers will visit the White House on Aug. 12, one day before their first preseason game in Cleveland.
Even as recently as last week, it wasn't clear if the Packers and White House would be able to work out a date. The Super Bowl winners typically visit the White House during the offseason - although the New Orleans Saints went in August last year - and NFL officials would not allow the Packers to do a White House visit during the lockout.
''I'm really excited that we were able to find a date to visit the White House,'' Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy said. ''The labor situation this spring made it a little challenging for us to set up a visit, but I think it is going to work out great. We're very appreciative that President Obama invited us, and I'm thrilled that our players and coaches will get to enjoy this unique opportunity.''
The visit should be particularly enjoyable for cornerback Charles Woodson, who playfully chided Obama last season for not supporting the Packers in the Super Bowl after they beat Obama's Chicago Bears in the NFC title game.
''Can't wait to meet the President,'' Woodson said. ''It'll be fun for the guys. We've waited a long time to get there and the moment is finally upon us.''
Woodson said he'll ''have something interesting'' to say to the President, and still thinks the First Fan should jump on the Packers' bandwagon.
''He should,'' Woodson said. ''I don't know what he's waiting on. There's good football played up here. He should jump onboard.''
Packers general manager Ted Thompson wasn't sure how willing players would be to give Obama some good-natured ribbing once they're actually in the White House.
''My first thought is it's a little intimidating being in the same room with the President of the United States,'' Thompson said. ''I think it'll be pretty cool for our players and I think they'll take it like that. Whether there's some light-hearted ribbing, that will be up to the personalities of the individuals. I'm usually not going to do that.''
One drawback for the timing of the visit: Thompson said the Packers would not be able to invite players from last season who are no longer with the team.
''Quite frankly, I don't know how we could possibly do it,'' Thompson said.
Packers safety Nick Collins said he'll be thinking about former teammates during the visit.
''You want those guys to be there because they were a part of that championship last year,'' Collins said. ''But unfortunately, the way things worked out, they moved on, we moved on, and that's just the nature of this business. We'll still carry them in our heart. We know who we went to battle with in the Super Bowl. They'll be with us.''
Collins said he can't wait to go behind the scenes in a place he's only seen on television.
''Everybody wants that experience, to go in the White House and get the tour,'' Collins said. ''That's a childhood dream for a lot of guys. I can't wait.''
Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop said he hoped to meet the president, shake his hand and ''possibly get a picture with him and post it on Twitter.''
And while the Packers have gone out of their way to say they've finished celebrating last season and are now focused on winning another Super Bowl, Bishop said visiting the White House won't interrupt their focus.
''We're professionals, we know where to draw the line,'' Bishop said. ''Going to the White House, or whatever we do that involves last year, we can reflect on it but at the same time focus on the goals for this year.''