For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 23, 2007
President Bush Congratulates NFL Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts
3:08 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated. How about it? Like, the Indianapolis Colts here on the South Lawn. Congratulations. Welcome to the Super Bowl champs. (Applause.)
I want to welcome Jim Irsay and Meg, and Carlie, Casey, and Kalen. I had the honor of calling Jim after they won. I understand how hard it is to be an owner of a sports team and win. (Laughter.) I never did it. But he has, and I congratulate the organization. I congratulate Bill Polian, as well. I want to thank all the front office personnel, the schedulers, the ticket sellers, the travel arrangers, the people who never get any credit. I appreciate you being part of a fine organization. And we're here on the South Lawn to congratulate you.
I congratulate the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Tony Dungy. (Applause.) And I'm glad his wife, Lauren, is here, as well. Tony Dungy is the first African American coach to ever win a Super Bowl. (Applause.) That, in itself, is a great honor. But interestingly enough, he is a man who has used his -- a position of notoriety to behave in a quiet and strong way in the face of personal tragedy that has influenced a lot of our fellow citizens. And I want to thank you for your courage. (Applause.)
Alphonso Jackson is here with us, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Prior to today he told me he was a Cowboy fan. (Laughter.) Like, what are you doing here, A.J.? Oh, okay, you wanted to see the coach. All right, good. I thank Randy Tobias, who was an executive from Indianapolis, but ran our HIV/AIDS initiative -- by the way, helped people in Africa receive antiretroviral drugs. When we came in there was 50,000 people receiving antiretroviral drugs; now there's 850,000 people receiving antiretroviral drugs. (Applause.) Tobias, thank you for your compassion. Al Hubbard, Economic Adviser to the President is here -- Indianapolis Colt fan.
I want to thank members of the Congress who have joined us today, starting with Senator Evan Bayh and Susan. It's good to see the Bayh lads with them. Thank you all for coming. Appreciate you being here. (Applause.) Dan Burton, appreciate you coming, Dan, and Samia, I'm glad you're here. Thanks for coming, Samia. Mark Souder, Julia Carson, Mike Pence, Baron Hill, Joe Donnelly and Brad Ellsworth -- glad you all are here. (Applause.)
Some of these guys get elected for the first time, and the first thing that happens is the Indianapolis Colts win the Super Bowl. You're not taking credit, are you? (Laughter.)
I want to thank all the coaches who are here. I want to thank the families of the Colt family who have helped this organization flourish. I want to -- most of all I want to thank the players. I am proud of you, the country is proud of you, the people from Indiana have supported you, and you didn't let them down. As a matter fact, last time you won as Colts, though, was 1971. Interesting, I thought about that. Most of you weren't even born. I was, and that's when they beat our Cowboys, A.J. (Laughter.) But you've -- as Bill put it, he said, "Finally." And a lot of Indianapolis fans said, "Thank goodness." They love to support this team. And you didn't let them down.
It was a pretty tough season, though, when you think about it. It wasn't one of these runaways. It looked like it was going to be a -- Secretary Rice, if you want to come in, please, yes. (Applause.) So you're a big Dungy fan, aren't you?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: That's right, that's what I thought. So the season started off good, like you won the first nine games, and then it appeared this championship team was going to fizzle; it wasn't going to make it. And so they -- you lost four out of seven. And they started to, like, write you off, right? They kind of say -- you probably -- some of these sports writers started to say, you know, well, they don't have what it takes; they can -- they can kind of do okay until it comes to the big one, and then they just don't have the character necessary to make it work. They did okay in the wild card, and you move your way to the playoffs, and then all of a sudden, the guy on Super Bowl 41 runs the kickoff back. (Laughter.) I'm sure a lot of those skeptics were saying, "Told you so, the Indianapolis Colts, good players, fine people, just don't have what it takes to win." But as the coach said, "Our guys just kept saying, 'We're going to fight -- we're not going to be denied.' That heart will take you a long way."
And so this is a victory for good hearts -- good hearts off the field and good hearts on the field. And we congratulate you. Thank you for winning. (Applause.)
So a lot of people here in the White House compound have been really looking forward to seeing Peyton Manning. They wanted to see a guy who gets more air time than I do. (Laughter.) I met Peyton Manning. He said, I'm going to be here during your presidency. We will be here having won the Super Bowl. And sure enough, he delivered. And Peyton, thank you for being a fine person and a good quarterback.
I'm sure Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne are saying thanks for being a good quarterback, thanks for getting us the ball -- after all, these two players ranked second and third in the NFL in receiving during the regular season. That's called balanced attack -- particularly when you added that LSU guy, Joseph. Where's Joseph? There he is. (Laughter and applause.) Congratulations to you.
Dominic Rhodes led the NFL in rushing yards in the post-season. You had people who can catch the ball, guy who throws the ball and people who can run the ball. People held your defense as suspect -- but not when it counted. I can remember all the analysts saying, well, the defense is a little short this year; they may have the offensive firepower, but they can't play on the other side of the ball. Until it mattered. And then the defense stood up and helped this team become a Super Bowl champ.
So to the offense, congratulations on doing what people expected. To the defense, thanks for helping this team be here in the White House, as well. (Applause.)
It's good to be the presence of Adam Vinatieri -- again. (Laughter.) The man knows how to pick a winner. (Laughter.) And help contribute to a winner. You know, in 2005 he didn't make it to the White House, and I asked, why. It was a simple matter of he and his wife were having a child -- I hope the kid is doing well. We're glad you're here, Adam, thank you very much.
I appreciate what guard Ryan Lilja said. He said, "The whole team has fought hard the whole season, through ups and downs." Isn't that what life is about, isn't it really? Through the ups -- it's easy to fight hard in the ups. It's when the downs come that you've got to be a fighter. He said, "I couldn't be prouder to be a part of this football team."
And I couldn't be prouder to welcome the football team to the South Lawn of the White House. I appreciate what this team does. I appreciate the example you set. I appreciate the fact that you understand that off the field, a lot of people are looking at you to determine whether or not they want to be like you.
I thank you very much for the "Bleed Blood Blue Drive" [SIC] -- that's hard for a guy from West Texas to say -- (laughter) -- "Bleed Blood Blue Drive" [SIC] in which you've encouraged 2,000 people to donate blood. I appreciate the book drives that you've held to promote literacy in the state of Indiana. I appreciate the food drives that you've held to fight hunger in the state of Indiana. I appreciate the Colts Football Fund.
Most of all, I appreciate you all. Thanks for coming. God bless. (Applause.)
MR. IRSAY: Mr. President, we have a special gift to present to you from the Irsay family and the Colts organization. I knew that you'd love these specially made cowboy hats. We have some special dedications inside there for you, sir, and I hope you'll enjoy it.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, sir.
MR. IRSAY: You're welcome.
THE PRESIDENT: Pretty snazzy, huh? (Laughter and applause.)
MR. DUNGY: And on behalf of the team, we got you a Bush Colts jersey. We normally go number 1, but in this case, we had to go 43.
THE PRESIDENT: That's right, thank you. (Applause.)
END 3:19 P.M. EDT