WASHINGTON -- New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson got his man, but it wasn't the usual one. Instead of head coach Bill Parcells being doused with Gatorade, Carson dumped a bucket of popcorn over the head of President Reagan.
Reagan also was presented a blue Giants 'No. 1' jersey with his name on the back by quarterback Phil Simms at a White House meeting Friday with more than 30 of the NFL Super Bowl champions.
The president, who played football for his Eureka College Golden Flashes, greeted the Giants in the East Room before trooping to the south lawn, where they watched him andthe first lady depart by helicopter for Camp David, Md.
The Reagans came out of the White House carrying a huge orange bucket filled with popcorn -- mimicking the Giant tradition of dumping a bucket of Gatorade on Parcells at the end of a winning game.
Reagan threw some popcorn on the players but soon found the tables turned as Carson grabbed the bucket and showered a laughing president.
Reagan has kept a low public profile in recent weeks in the wake of his Jan. 5 prostate surgery and in the shadow of the Iran arms-Contra aid scandal.
But Friday, he managed to draw a laugh out of his worst political crisis after telling the Giants they 'played great football this year' all the way through their 39-20 Super Bowl victory over the Denver Broncos.
'(You) also had fun,' he said. 'That's why our fans -- or your fans I should say -- have been so loyal.' Recognizing his slight slip of the tongue, he ad-libbed quickly and somewhat ruefully, 'I don't have many fans anymore.'
The crowd roared.
Reagan shook hands with the players, many of whom towered over him or dwarfed him with their bulk, and remarked as he stepped to the microphone in the East Room: 'They are sure are going to be big when they get as old as I am.'
Parcells was absent from the gathering because of a family commitment, Reagan said. Nevertheless, the president asked defensive lineman George Martin to sign him up after being told he is now an honorary member of the team.
'When do I start?' Reagan asked.