President Barack Obama weaved an impressive monologue together Monday as he formally congratulated the Denver Broncos on their Super Bowl 50 championship, and he wasn't shy about noting the prowess of Wade Phillips' defense.
In a speech that jokingly recognized kicker Brandon McManus as the team's offensive "heart and soul," Obama shined a spotlight on pass rushers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware before eventually playing tribute to now-retired quarterback Peyton Manning.
"Last year was a high-water mark with a third Super Bowl trophy in a dominating win over Carolina," Obama said. "That doesn't mean it was always pretty -- or ever pretty. Coaches acknowledged that this is a gritty group of hard-nosed grinders. Last season, the Broncos won an NFL record 11 games by a touchdown or less, and you don't do that without one of the greatest defenses of all time."
Obama eventually worked his way back to Manning, whom he prodded for being an ever-present commercial spokesperson for different products.
"And then there's this guy from the commercials. No matter what you need -- insurance, a pizza, a Buick -- you can stack your whole household with stuff this guy is selling," Obama said. "You know where to turn -- it's Peyton Manning. I have to say I'm so pleased to be able to host Peyton at the White House before I left. Anyone who has been a football fan, who has watched one of the greatest football careers ever, racking up more wins, MVPs, passing yards and touchdowns than anybody in history.
"The only quarterback to win Super Bowls with two different teams. We were all obviously disappointed to see him hang it up this spring, but as somebody who is just a little older than he is, I was sympathetic to the idea. Running around with these guys takes its toll."
It was a speech that reminded us a little bit of how good we've had it. Obama's policies and actions have elicited countless opinions, but few can discount his passion and appreciation for sports and sporting culture. In addition to a moving tribute to ailing Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, he touted his fandom of the Chicago Bears and knowledge of Bronco Country throughout the Midwest. It will be his final Super Bowl address in office.
"I will continue to root for the Bears," he said. "But I gotta give this organization credit for having done an extraordinary job."