U.S. President Barack Obama welcomes the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their Super Bowl victory on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Oct. 7, 2011. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama welcomed the 1985 Super Bowl XX champion Chicago Bears to the White House Friday, calling them "the greatest team in NFL history"
"This is as much fun as I will have as president of the United States, right here," Obama said. "This is one of the perks of the job, right here. Ladies and gentlemen, the greatest team in NFL history -- the 1985 Chicago Bears.
"Now, I know that may get me into some trouble in some cities that I visit," said the longtime Bears fan as onlookers laughed. "But I believe it is the truth."
Former players including Gary Fencik, Willie Gault, Richard Dent and Shaun Gayle as well as dozens of current and former Bears officials, including former Coach Mike Ditka, flew to Washington Tuesday with the Lombardi trophy in tow, at the invitation of the president, WLS-TV, Chicago, reported Friday.
"It is a shame they won't let us stay overnight, but I can guarantee you the ride home is going to be a lot more fun than the ride out," former Bears tight end Emery Moorehead said.
Dan Hampton, a member of the 1985 team and a Hall of Famer, said he chose not to accompany the team due to his dislike of Obama.
Receptions for sports teams at the White House gained popularity under Ronald Reagan, but Gerald Gems, a professor at North Central College in Naperville, Ill., and co-author of "Sports in American History," said President Andrew Johnson hosted baseball teams in the White House during his 1865-1869 term, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The Bears never received the honor in 1986 due to the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger two days after the Super Bowl.
Speaking at the White House event Friday, Ditka said the Bears "consider (Obama) one of us."
"It was a great group of guys," Ditka said. "We're very proud that you honored us by bringing us here."