For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 2, 2002
President Welcomes New England Patriots to White House
Remarks by the President in Photo Opportunity with Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots
The Rose Garden
11:25 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: I'm honored to welcome the Super Bowl Champ Patriots to the Rose Garden. I want to thank their owner, Bob Kraft, for his leadership. And, of course, I want to thank their coach. Coach Bill has brought a lot of organization and clarity of purpose to this organization. I can remember when they were down on you a little bit -- I know how you feel. (Laughter.)
As a matter of fact, the Patriots learned an interesting lesson. I remember watching all the experts talk about the Super Bowl -- no one thought they'd win. They learned what I learned, that in politics and sports, the experts are often wrong.
I was really impressed by the character of this team. Most of all, I obviously watched the game, I was amazed at the play and how they won. For a guy growing up in Texas, that snow game looked pretty rough. (Laughter.) But I know all the Patriot fans were thrilled with that game and the Super Bowl. I know you've got some great fans here.
Obviously, members of the Congress are great friends. It's good to see Senator Kennedy and Senator Jeffords, who are here. I don't know if any members of the Congress are here, as well. But I want to thank you both for coming.
I was impressed by a lot, but let me tell you what impressed me most was when the team took the field prior to the Super Bowl. It wasn't one of these things where the spotlight was on any individual, everybody went out at the same time. I thought that was a pretty good signal to America that teamwork is important; that the individual matters to the team, but the team is bigger than the individual.
That's one of the things I try to explain to people in Washington, that we're here to serve something greater than ourself. And I appreciated so very much that signal to the country.
I remember watching the early Patriots there in Houston, when they came down to AFL. And I remember Gino Cappelletti. And Gino Cappelletti said this about this team. I think you probably remember Gino Cappelletti, don't you, Senator Kennedy? You were around in those days. (Laughter.) Barely, but around.
I think every guy that every played for the Patriots would be proud of this bunch. They are not only a team with great heart and toughness, they're also a good group of guys. They were champs on the field and, more importantly, champs off the field, by sending not only a clear message about the importance of teamwork, but about the importance of serving something greater than yourself in life, whether it be the Salvation Army in the Boston area, or after-school programs so some child realizes somebody cares about them, or how they conduct their own home life -- is just as important to me, and America, for that matter, than winning on the football field. So it's an honor to welcome true football champs, but as well, really fine Americans, to the Rose Garden. Congratulations. (Applause.)
MR. KRAFT: Thank you, President Bush, for inviting us here today. We, as Patriots family, feel in a way, in a very humble way, that we represent in a very small way what the President's inspirational leadership over the last year has meant to our country, because we're a team of underdogs, we're red, white and blue, we put team first, but most of all, in the end, we were winners.
And we brought this country together in a way that I think the President has brought the country through his leadership. So we're happy our Super Bowl journey started with his dad tossing the coin, and we're happy to complete it right here today and make him an honorary captain. The coach and I want to present him with his own shirt here. (Applause.)
COACH BELICHICK: I'll keep it real short. Mr. President, the team would like to present you with an autographed ball from the Super Bowl Championship New England Patriots.
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate that. Thank you, sir. That is short. (Laughter and applause.) Congratulations. Congratulations to you all. (Applause.)
END 11:30 A.M. EST