Heard on the Hill

Five Times Obama was Fan in Chief

During Monday Broncos visit, president jokes kicker was offensive star


Pick just about any week President Barack Obama is in town, chances are he could be welcoming a championship sports team to the White House. Sure enough, Obama had the NFL Super Bowl champions,  the Denver Broncos,  over on Monday.  

As always on such occasions, Obama let his fandom show. He began the ceremony by mimicking now-retired Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning 's snap count. "Omaha! Omaha! 44 is mike," Obama said in a cadence and tone far less intense than Manning used on the field.  

And he even ribbed the team, which was led by its stellar defense, by calling kicker Brandon McManus the catalyst of the Denver offensive attack.  

Obama's been at this since the start of his presidency. Here are a few of the 44th president's memorable visits with the champs:

August 2011: Green Bay Packers


A late summer visit by the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers couldn’t have been easy for Obama — the 44th president is a big fan of his hometown Chicago Bears, the Pack’s blood rival.  

“You guys are coming to my house to rub it in,” the president said with a grudging smile, on the White House ’s South Lawn. “What are you going to do, go to Ditka’s house next?” (He was referring to former Bears head coach Mike Ditka.)  

The team presented Obama with a Packers jersey emblazoned with “No. 1” and “Commander in Chief ” on the back, a cool get for any sports fan.  

But rivalries are rivalries, so perhaps Obama will hang that gift in a dark corner of his presidential library … Oh, and the Packers, a publicly held company, gave the Bears fan some team stock. Burn.

March 2011: Chicago Blackhawks


The fan in chief likely enjoyed a visit a few months earlier much more. That’s when the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks of his hometown came to celebrate their National Hockey League title.  

“Now, we have hosted a lot of teams at the White House over the last two years, but this one is a little sweeter. It’s pretty special,” Obama said. “That’s because it is the first time as president I get to say congratulations on bringing a world championship to my hometown, the city of Chicago.”  

The president, well, was beaming. For good reason, it had been a while since a professional Chicago team won a title.  

“We have a proud tradition in Chicago of believing that no matter how long it takes, how much we have to endure, it’s only a matter of time before our team finally wins it all,” he said. “The waiting builds character. We have a lot of character.”  

[ Villanova Basketball Has a Fan in the President ]

UConn women's basketball — five visits


Forget the Lincoln Bedroom. That’s so 19th century. Hello to the Auriemma Suite at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.  

As in Geno Auriemma , the legendary head coach of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team. It’s safe to say Auriemma is a regular White House guest.  

"He's been in office seven years, and we've been there five," Auriemma said earlier this year, ESPN.com reported. "He said that I have my own room in the White House. I have my own bedroom in the White House."  

Obama is getting accustomed to seeing the future Hall of Fame coach.  

“When I called Coach Geno to congratulate him for winning the title — again — I told him we’d have his room ready for him when he gets here,” Obama said last month. "It's a small room, with a cot. He doesn’t get the Lincoln bedroom. But he does seem to spend an awful lot of time here.”

February 2016: Golden State Warriors


Obama gave up basketball in 2010 after a bloody lip required stitches. But perhaps the president will find a second career on the hardwood.  

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr brought his NBA championship squad to the executive mansion and joked that the president “will be a free agent next year” when his second term ends. He presented Obama with a white Warriors jersey with the president's name and the No. 44 emblazoned on it, calling it “a symbol of an offer that is coming.”  

The night before the visit, Warriors star guard Steph Curry hit 11 3-pointers en route to a 51-point night during the Warriors’ 134-121 win over the Washington Wizards.  

“He was clownin’,” Obama said before imitating a dance the Golden State star often does when he’s scoring buckets in bunches.  

[ As Villanova and Oklahoma Play, so Do Meehan and Cole ]

January 2014: Miami Heat


Obama will leave the White House without celebrating an NBA title with his beloved Chicago Bulls. But he was part of history, welcoming LeBron James to commemorate his first dance with the Larry O’Brien Trophy .  

“Now, for many of teams that come here, this is a lot of cameras in one place. It’s a little overwhelming,” the president said. “But for the Heat, this is what practice looks like. This is normal.”  

James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces in Miami, becoming known as basketball’s version of the Beatles. And Obama once played pickup hoops with some of the Heat.  

“I think part of the reason they came back today is they want another shot at the old guy,” he quipped.

Contact Bennett at  johnbennett@cqrollcall.com  and follow him on Twitter  @BennettJohnT .

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.