Crimson Tide players visit the White House

Crimson Tide players visit the White House
President Barack Obama poses alongside Alabama football coach Nick Saban, center left, and Alabama football players with his new Alabama helmet and personalized jersey on the South Lawn of the White House, Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Washington. (AP Photo/Tuscaloosa News, Michelle Lepianka Carter)

The Alabama Crimson Tide football team journeyed to the White House last Thursday for the second time in three years to be honored for their 2011 national championship.

Mayor Walt Maddox was present at the ceremony, which took place on the South Lawn of the White House, as President Barack Obama congratulated the Crimson Tide on 14 championship wins.

“I told Coach [Saban] he’s making this a habit,” Obama said.

Obama recognized the record-breaking accomplishments of kicker Jeremy Shelley for setting the bowl-record of five successful field goals and Trent Richardson for scoring the only touchdown of the game.

“So, this season was fun to watch, but it was also a deeply meaningful season for the Tide,” he said.

Obama talked about teamwork of the Tide in the aftermath of the April 27 tornadoes and the death of teammate Aaron Douglas, an offensive lineman.

The actions of Crimson Tide players, such as Courtney Upshaw raising $20,000 in relief funds and Saban’s “13 for 13” program that aims to rebuild 13 houses for families who lost theirs, showed “what it takes to win as a team, but also what it means to be a part of a larger community,” Obama said.

Crimson Tide helmets now sport a houndstooth ribbon to commemorate the April 27 tornadoes and the number 77 to honor Douglas.

“Things like politics, religion, race — when we’re confronted with a tragedy of such magnitude, all that just fades away,” he said. “We’re reminded that all we have is each other.”

Saban said it takes a lot of teamwork, hard work and perseverance to be successful.

“It takes a lot perseverance, certainly a lot of positive energy and attitude to be successful, and a lot of people with a lot of discipline and responsibility to be accountable to do what they’re supposed to do,” Saban said.

As a way to thank Obama for supporting and honoring the team, Barrett Jones presented Obama with a personalized Crimson Tide jersey and helmet on behalf of the entire team.

“I was mentioning yesterday, I’m probably going to need a helmet between now and November,” Obama joked.

The Crimson Tide also took a tour of the White House and visited the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial and the Arlington National Cemetery.

Melissa Robinson, a junior majoring in food and nutrition, said it is not every day that a person gets a chance to meet the president.

“It must be nice to have such an opportunity,” she said. “Most people never get to meet a president in their lifetime, much less twice in three years.”

Winning the national championship gave Tuscaloosa a morale boost, especially since the April 27 tornadoes happened, Robinson said.

“I am proud of my team,” she said. “We prevailed in the midst of adversity.”

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