Dave Boling: After 38 years, Seahawks finally get presidential welcome

May 21, 2014 

May 21, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; (From left to right) Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen, cornerback Richard Sherman, quarterback Russell Wilson, and wide receiver Doug Baldwin present President Barack Obama with an honorary "12th man flag" at a ceremony honoring the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks in the East Room at The White House. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

GEOFF BURKE — USA Today Sports

For most of the Seattle Seahawks’ history, the only thing that resembled a parade for them was when the trucks were lined up to move them to Southern California.

Yes, they’d gone to Washington, D.C., a number of times, but that often meant a loss to the Redskins.

As for anything presidential, does Leon Washington count? Cortez Kennedy? Blair Bush?

With the Seahawks’ players and staff enjoying the well-wishes and wise cracks from President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday, it’s probably a good time to remember that it took the Seahawks 38 seasons to get there.

So players, coaches and fans are wise to soak this up and not take a single bit of it for granted.

Winning the Vince Lombardi Trophy was the most important validation of what the Seahawks accomplished this year, and there was the downtown parade in the early aftermath. A ring ceremony and banner raising will come later.

So Wednesday’s White House visit was just a part of the sequential celebration of a Super Bowl win.

But it still is an important benchmark moment, a time to cement in the consciousness of the nation’s sports fans just what the Seahawks accomplished.

If nothing else, it reinforced some general impressions of the team.

The president appears to be a legitimate sports fan, but one with a few other things on his mind. So it’s obvious that he benefited from some coaching on some of the Seahawks’ personalities.

He hit the high points: Richard Sherman’s verbosity, Brandon Mebane’s comically disturbing belly-roll dance, the seismic 12th Man fan base and Marshawn Lynch’s unrelenting reticence.

Obama said he was sorry Lynch wasn’t at the White House festivities because “I just wanted to say how much I admire his approach to the press.”

Lynch famously does not grant press briefings. That’s what makes it a joke.

But some of Obama’s comments showed genuine insight into the qualities that led this team to stand behind him in the White House.

He spoke of Russell Wilson’s storied will to prove doubters wrong for most of his life. He spoke of the 19 players on the roster who had gone undrafted and used the snub to fuel their drive to excel.

“I root for the underdogs,” Obama said. “Seeing folks overcome the odds excites me. It also excites me when you see the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. And that’s what ‘team’ is all about.”

At points such as that, he sounded a great deal like coach Pete Carroll.

Obama cited the community involvement of Wilson, who spends days off cheering up patients at a children’s hospital, and Sherman, who serves as an inspiration for disadvantaged kids fighting off inner-city risks.

He congratulated Carroll for “outstanding leadership,” making it sound as if his personnel management techniques have application outside of football.

“I think those of us who are in leadership positions across disciplines (are) always looking at folks who do things the right way,” Obama said. “It’s pretty clear coach Carroll does things the right way.”

In response, Carroll again pressed his message of celebrating individuality in the service of the team’s common goals.

“They’ve come together and shared a unique mission and goal to do something really special,” Carroll said.

There were so many who laid cornerstones and buttressed the franchise along the way to this long-awaited celebration.

The Nordstroms brought the franchise here, and Paul Allen kept it here. Mike Holmgren made the team relevant in the 21st century.

But it was Carroll and general manager John Schneider who finally got them to the White House.

And, aside from the many laughs, there was obvious emotion on the players’ faces.

Some of the guys who played with such swagger and confidence seemed to be puddling up when the president of the United States talked about their character and historic achievements.

It was a rare moment, one to savor. Thirty-eight years in the making.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440

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