March 8, 2010
WASHINGTON - The University of Alabama's 2009 National Championship football team was welcomed to the White House on Monday by President Barack Obama during a ceremony in the East Room.
President Obama congratulated the entire Crimson Tide team, while praising their "winning attitude" and mentioning the individual efforts of Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, Butkus Award winner Rolando McClain and captains Javier Arenas and Mike Johnson.
"The trip has been great so far," Alabama senior captain Mike Johnson said following the visit to the White House. "Meeting the President was an awesome experience. Javy (Arenas) and I got a chance to give him a jersey, helmet and football on behalf of our team. We are about to tour the U.S. Capitol and then see the monuments at the National Mall before finishing the day at the Pentagon. Everyone is having a good time and learning a lot."
President Obama also praised Alabama's graduation rate, which is the second highest of any team in the top 25, and the 3,500 hours of community service put in by all Crimson Tide student-athletes.
"That's the kind of tone this team sets, both on and off the field," President Obama said.
Arenas presented President Obama with a No. 1 Alabama jersey with his name on the back while Johnson gave him an autographed football and a helmet with the No. 13, representing Alabama's 13th national championship.
The Crimson Tide will conclude their visit to Washington D.C. with a tour of the U.S. Capitol, a visit to the monuments at the National Mall and a trip to the Pentagon.