It was one of the defining moments of the Green Bay Packers’ run to Super Bowl XLV.
In the days before the NFC Championship Game, President Obama said he’d go to the Super Bowl to see his home-state Chicago Bears if they could get past the rival Packers. Moments after Green Bay’s 21-14 victory over Chicago sent the Packers to suburban Dallas and kept Obama in Washington, Charles Woodson stood before his teammates in the jubilant locker room at Soldier Field.
"The president don't want to come watch us win the Super Bowl?" Woodson said. "Guess what? We'll go see him!”
Woodson will get to see Obama on Aug. 12, with the team flying to Washington in the morning before going back to Cleveland for the preseason opener against the Browns the following evening.
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“Very important because that means we won,” Woodson said on Wednesday. “I really meant what I said that day and I thought we would win the Super Bowl. We were able to do that so it’ll be good to follow up on those words.”
With a wry smile, Woodson said he didn’t have any words in mind for the president. At least at the moment.
“I’ll have something interesting for him, for sure,” Woodson said.
The timing is odd — general manager Ted Thompson used the word "disappointing" to describe the timing — in a few of ways. In many years, the White House trip would have been taken care of in the spring. While the Saints visited about this time last year, the last three champions — Pittsburgh (May), the New York Giants (April) and Indianapolis (April) got the presidential treatment during offseason workouts. Because of the lockout, however, teams were not allowed to get together.
The Packers’ visit comes the day before their preseason opener. When the Saints visited last August, they met with Obama on a Monday.
“It was going to be a travel day anyway to get to Cleveland so might as well stop and see the president, too,” tight end Tom Crabtree said.
Added kicker Mason Crosby, “When Coach (Mike McCarthy) told us (at a team meeting earlier in the day), that was pretty exciting. It’s going to be fun to be able to do that. Didn’t know if it was going to be able to happen. It’s going to be a whirlwind tour, going out there and then back to Cleveland and playing that game, but it’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be worth it. It’s going to be an honor to be able to meet the president.”
Several players who were part of last year’s championship no longer play for the Packers, having been released or signing elsewhere in free agency.
“You want those guys to be there because they were a part of that championship last year,” safety Nick Collins said. “But unfortunately, the way things worked out, they moved on, we moved on, and that’s just the nature of this business. We’ll still carry them in our heart. We know who we went to battle with in the Super Bowl. They’ll be with us.”
That Obama cheers for the Packers’ ancient rival will make a memorable trip all that more unforgettable.
“I’m sure somebody will remind him about it,” linebacker Desmond Bishop said.
And, perhaps, suggest the president switch allegiances.
“He should. He should,” Woodson said. “I don’t know what he’s waiting on. There’s good football played up here. He should jump onboard.”
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.