Seahawks to visit the White House on May 21
It will be the Seahawks’ turn to take part in what has become one of the more notable traditions for championship teams — a visit to the White House.
Seattle Times staff reporter
On Wednesday, it will be the Seahawks’ turn to take part in what has become one of the more notable traditions for championship teams — a visit to the White House.
Immediate details of the trip were sparse other than to say that it will occur in the afternoon.
But the trip was ensured the minute the Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey on Feb. 2.
For more than three decades, such visits have been an annual tradition for not only the Super Bowl champion but title winners in a host of sports, college and pro.
Various reports state that the first Super Bowl champions to visit the White House were the 1969 New York Jets.
President Ronald Reagan is generally given credit for being the first to make it a routine to invite every major title-winning team.
The trips used to be more commonly held closer to the end of the season, which caused the White House to cancel a visit by the 1985 Bears due to the Space Shuttle tragedy in January 1986. The Bears didn’t make their trip until 2011.
In more recent years, the trips have typically been held in the spring — the Baltimore Ravens visited on June 5 last year — or closer to training camp.
Seattle players are currently in town participating in the team’s offseason conditioning program. Offensive tackle Michael Bowie tweeted on Wednesday “I’m excited about meeting the president” and that he planned to “take a selfie with him.”
Every player and coach who was part of the team that won the Super Bowl is invited, including those who have since signed elsewhere or been released, such as receiver Golden Tate and defensive end Red Bryant, who was a defensive team captain. Senior management personnel will also make the trip.
The New York Times once described the seemingly annual trips that the Yankees used to take this way: “After waiting in a holding room, the team will be taken on a tour of the White House, including the Oval Office, where some players will sit in the president’s chair. The commander in chief will then greet the players, shake their hands and pose for pictures.’’
Visits are usually capped by the scene that everyone remembers — the president honoring the team in the Rose Garden, surrounded by coaches and players.
In 1988, Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams joked that Reagan could have a football the team had brought only if he “ran the right play.’’ Reagan famously responded by asking where receiver Ricky Sanders was, then throwing him a short pass as Sanders ran through the lawn.
While the trips have become a tradition the past three decades, it’s generally acknowledged that the first visit by a sports team to the White House came in 1865, when President Andrew Johnson invited the Brooklyn Atlantic club — which had beaten the National Club of Washington — in for a little tour.
According to The New York Times, the first pro baseball team to make a visit was the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, invited by President Ulysses S. Grant, born in nearby Point Pleasant, Ohio.
The Seahawks will be far from the first local team to visit the White House.
The 1991 University of Washington football team visited the White House the following March in a dual ceremony with the Miami Hurricanes, with whom they shared the national title.
The University of Washington women’s volleyball team that won the 2005 NCAA title visited the White House the following April as part of a group of 12 national college teams that were honored at once.
And the Seattle Storm team that won the 2010 WNBA title was honored the following June.
The 1979 Seattle SuperSonics did not make a visit, however, apparently because such trips were not yet commonplace — not because they beat the hometown Washington Bullets for the title.