3:09 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Everybody, please have a seat. Welcome to the White House, and congratulations to the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. (Applause.)
We’ve got some members of Congress and members of my administration who are here today and rabid Giants fans. I want to also recognize the Maras and the Tischs, as well as, of course, head coach Tom Coughlin and general manager Jerry Reese. They have built this team into one of the NFL’s most outstanding franchises. So we are very proud of them. (Applause.)
Now, I know for some of you, this is just “welcome back.” (Laughter). You guys have been through this drill before. The last time the Giants were here was in 2008. A lot of folks thought that team didn’t have a chance to win a Super Bowl. They ended up winning with a circus catch in the fourth quarter, MVP performance by Eli Manning -- (applause) -- a come-from-behind win over the Patriots. So this is all starting to sound kind of like déjà vu all over again.
But every season is different, and last year’s Giants were obviously a special bunch, not just because of where they ended up, but because of how they got there. Every team has to deal with injuries to the players. Not many teams have to deal with a late hit on the head coach. (Laughter.) You saw that Jets game.
Now, Coach Coughlin reminds everybody, he did not go down. That’s a tough guy. And you can see that toughness reflected in everybody else on this team. The Giants took a whole bunch of hits this season, but they never went down. From day one, they followed a simple motto: Finish. Finish the play. Finish the game. Finish the season.
And after week 15, sitting at 7-7, they knew that every game was a playoff game. But the players, the coaches, the staff, the owners -- they didn’t quit. They believed in each other. And they kept winning, all the way to Indianapolis.
The night before the Super Bowl, they watched a highlight reel set to Justin Tuck’s good-luck song, “In the Air Tonight.” I don’t know about a little Phil Collins before a big game. (Laughter.) I may try that before a big meeting with Congress.
But apparently it worked. Next night, Eli Manning led the way, earned his second Super Bowl MVP. (Applause.) So I would just advise the sportswriters out there the next time Eli says he thinks he’s an elite quarterback, you might just want to be quiet. (Applause.)
Eli wasn’t alone, of course. Justin Tuck got to the QB. Victor Cruz scored and salsaed. (Applause.) Mario Manningham kept his feet inbounds for the biggest catch of his life. Nobody was perfect, but everybody did their job. And when the Patriots’ Hail Mary hit the ground, the Giants were Super Bowl champions. Of course, the fans back home went crazy.
Now, people from New York and New Jersey don’t fall for just anybody. It’s a tough crowd, let’s face it. (Applause.) You’ve got to earn their respect. They're never completely satisfied, and you’ve got to earn it both on and off the field. And that’s exactly what the Giants did. From fighting childhood obesity -- Michelle likes that -- to wrapping up leftover food for homeless shelters, to working with the Make-a-Wish Foundation to bring kids to practices and games, Big Blue supports the folks who support them.
They’ve certainly earned the respect of folks like Ray Odierno -- is here, who is obviously one of our greatest warriors and one of our greatest soldiers -- because this team is always there for our men and women in uniform. This is a New York Giants tradition that goes back to World War II. (Applause.) Back in World War II, Wellington Mara served in the United States Navy -- so there’s a long tradition here.
And these guys have made it clear that no matter who you root for on Sundays, if you’re a veteran, the New York Giants are on your team. Whether it’s setting up tickets to games, or inviting folks to practices, the Giants never forget the men and women who risk everything to protect our freedom. And I especially want to thank and congratulate Coach Coughlin on receiving the Army’s Outstanding Civilian Service Award. That's a great honor. (Applause.)
By the way, we’ve got some wounded warriors here today. Let’s give them all a big round of applause. (Applause.) Having these folks here today, seeing how much the Giants means to them is a reminder of how important sports and football can be, but it's also a reminder that there are some things that are more important than football -- and the Giants know that. They finished strong, they won six straight games with everything on the line, they made a difference in the lives of those around them. But, most importantly, they did it not just on Sunday, but every week.
So, again, I want to congratulate the New York Giants. Good luck this season. It looks like we've got somebody singing for you. (Laughter.) That’s how happy everybody is.
Give the New York Giants a big round of applause. (Applause.)
3:15 P.M. EDT