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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks Congratulating the Super Bowl Champion San Francisco 49ers


The President. Who was it -- Yogi [Berra] used to talk about deja vu all over again. Well, here we are, and Barbara and I are just delighted. It seems, really -- and the talk in coming through the line -- that only just yesterday it seemed that we celebrated the last Super Bowl victory, and now here we are. So, to Eddie DeBartolo and the staff, certainly Coach Seifert and all the players of the 49ers and families, congratulations and welcome to the White House. It's a joy to have you here.

You know, when I first heard that this occasion was in honor of one of the greatest victories in American championship history, I couldn't help but look around and wonder: So, where's Buster Douglas? [Laughter]

But we do have with us the man that I know all you guys recognize. And I hope all of you saw my friend and our new Chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness, larger than life himself, but confessed that he felt like Danny DeVito standing next to these guys. [Laughter] And I'm talking about our friend and a man who is undertaking a very important job for this country, heading the President's Fitness Council, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold, thank you very much for being here. I think Arnold and my old colleague from the Congress, the guy sitting next to him -- used to pitch in the major leagues, Senator Ben Mizell -- And we're having a meeting on national fitness tomorrow, so you guys be careful. We may need you for a little leadership for the kids in this country.

But today we're here, though, to honor the 'Niners. Coach Seifert, I hesitate to call this your rookie year. Your team is carrying into the nineties the title the Steelers carried into the seventies: Team of the Decade. I won't mention America's team, the Cowboys -- [laughter] -- but we'll come back someday.

Of course, this last Super Bowl seemed to have been over sometime around the end of the national anthem. [Laughter] And in fact, I was asked to do -- this is true -- public service commercial aired twice during the game, once in the first quarter, once in the fourth. And the five people who saw it the second time -- [laughter] -- been invited as special guests to the White House. All of them work for me. [Laughter]

Joe Cool -- where did Joe go? Where's Joe Montana? I don't spot him back there. There he is, hiding in the back row. But I was impressed by your performance once again -- unsurprised, however. You see, back in '79, Joe played against the University of Houston in the Cotton Bowl. And down by 22 in the fourth quarter and sick with the flu, he still brought Notre Dame back for a win. As a Houstonian there are some things you never forget. [Laughter] Joe, go right back where you came from. [Laughter]

Now you're MVP for '82, '85, and '90. And in the Super Bowl XXIV, you threw for a record five touchdowns. Cooler than the other side of a pillow. [Laughter] Fair to say he's the most accurate passer in the NFL -- 70 percent. Never thrown a Super Bowl interception.

And Jerry Rice -- three touchdown passes in one game. And of course, I couldn't fail to mention John Taylor, wide receiver, tight end Brent Jones -- each with a touchdown to his credit.

And what I said last year applies today: While Joe and Jerry handled the aerial attack, Roger Craig ground out that tough yardage on the ground. And once again, he's shown what the words ``Gold Rush'' mean. And Tom Rathman, with whom I've just spoke in the line there, you've had an outstanding season, topped off by two bulldozing touchdowns. The only thing is, Tom, I wish you could get over this Mr. Nice image that you've recently developed on the playing field. [Laughter] Mike Cofer, seven for eight -- that's about as close to perfection as a player can get.

The offensive line -- superb, a five-man strategic defense initiative, really, protecting Joe. And here's to the powers of the 'Niners defense, led by Ronnie Lott. I understand that Ronnie gave the team a boost even before the national anthem, with his usual stirring pregame speech. Funny how guys named Ronnie -- [laughter] -- seem to have a knack for this ``Win one for the Gipper,'' you know, kind of thing. [Laughter]

You have all impressed America with a truly awesome performance. In the meantime, let me say -- and I know you guys will understand it -- express my appreciation for the Broncos. They are true sportsmen. You clobbered them. But they're a good team, and they came on to get into the Super Bowl. They're also -- though you beat them -- number two in the NFL, a considerable honor.

But the greatest honor should go to a 49er who's always at your side, someone who's shown great determination, someone with valor -- your defensive back, Jeff Fuller.

It's a little wonder that many are calling the 49ers a dynasty. You've shown us that to excel in football, as in anything, a team must be passionately dedicated to excellence. When asked about this, Joe simply says: ``I see myself as a man struggling in a business that's very competitive.'' Well put -- a bit understated, but very well put. This fighting spirit is the hallmark of each and every member of this team and, I might add, the entire staff of the 49er organization. So, I want to congratulate you, and I'd be remiss if I didn't make one concluding pitch. You don't have too much time off now, with some of you going back to your communities -- a lot of fellow Texans up here, several from Georgia, many, of course, from the coast. But I urge you to take some of this fame that you have earned and help the kids in this country stay off of drugs and learn to read and grow up to be the kind of sportsmen that each and every one of you are.

Thank you for coming to the White House. We're just delighted to have you all here, really. Now, where's Eddie? Oh, here he is. Good.

Mr. DeBartolo. Thank you very much, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. President and Mrs. Bush. Thank you so much for having us back here and for your hospitality. And I know how very busy you are. We have a little present for the youngest member of your family to help her nights at Camp David to stay a little bit warmer. This [49er sweater] is for Millie.

Mrs. Bush. Oh, it's so cute. He wouldn't let me bring her down.

Mr. DeBartolo. I know. We saw her in the backyard.

The President. Well, thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 2:50 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. Edward J. DeBartolo is owner of the San Francisco 49ers.

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