Home » Research » Public Papers - 1989 - February
Facebook Twitter Youtube Flickr

Events Newsletter

Click here to become a member of our e-club and receive news about special events and offers.

National Archives

Public Papers - 1989 - February

Remarks Congratulating the Super Bowl Champion San Francisco 49'ers

1989-02-03

The President. Welcome. Please be seated. Jack -- that's our Cabinet star, Jack Kemp. Did you all get a chance to see him? Good.

Well, Eddie DeBartolo and Coach Walsh and the staff and all the players here from the 49'ers, let me just say first congratulations to all of you and welcome to the White House. This victory last month of the 49'ers as indisputably the world's champion sets you up as that in every sense of the word. And with this, your third Super Bowl title in 8 years, you rewrote the record books and raised the game of football to a new level of excellence. In devising your game plan, Bill Walsh proved once again why he's considered one of the greatest coaches ever, and in leading your team 97 yards in the final 3 minutes, Joe, you once again showed your grace under pressure. I guess we all wonder why did it take so long -- [laughter] -- but nevertheless the country saw it.

And, Jerry Rice, what can I say that hasn't already been said? I've heard there is a new TV series coming out based on your Super Bowl performance -- Miami Rice. [Laughter] Available in every city in the country except one -- [laughter] -- Cincinnati, that is. [Laughter] And Joe and Jerry handled the aerial attack, but when your team needed the tough yardage on the ground you turned to Roger Craig. And in his years as a 49'er, Roger has given a whole new meaning to the words ``gold rush,'' and when he runs the football, the chances are he is headed for paydirt.

It wouldn't be fair to mention the offensive stars without also giving great credit to the defense. And during the first half, when the offense was having a tough time, the defense kept you in that ballgame with their cool, smart, hard-hitting football.

And speaking of tough times, in all of the hoopla surrounding the Super Bowl victory, most people have forgotten the adversity that you overcame just to get there. But you never gave up, you pulled together as a team, you came back step by step, game by game, and you eliminated mistakes, never stopped striving for excellence. And there is a lesson in that for -- I think for all of us, but maybe particularly for the student body presidents and athletes that are here in the audience with us today.

And that's why I wanted you to share in this ceremony. To the young people here and across the country, I'd like to remind you that what you achieve in your life depends a lot on what you achieve in school during the next few years. And if I could offer one piece of advice, it would be this: Strive for excellence in all things and don't accept mediocrity. Being satisfied with mediocrity might be the easy way, but striving for excellence is the only way up.

Some of you have already achieved excellence in football and perhaps in other sports as well. And I can tell you and the 49 players, I'm sure -- 49'ers -- will agree, I am sure, that being good in sports is not enough to achieve excellence. You just have to be educated for excellence. The main ingredient in each person's success is individual initiative. It always has been, and it always will be. So I would say, if you're willing to work hard and make sacrifices, you can accomplish just about anything you set your mind to. And that's what the American dream is all about.

And, again, to all the 49'ers, and to you, Coach Walsh, and to all the 49'ers -- my congratulations to you! And thanks for setting a superb example for our country. Thank you and God bless all of you.

Mr. DeBartolo. Mr. President, it's a great honor being here. And there's a few presentations that Coach Walsh and the players want to make. I want to just make one announcement that we did find out that your ring size is 11 and a half. And we're going to give you the first ring that comes out of production because we want you to be an honorary member of our team. And we're with you a thousand percent in everything you do. And God bless you and all that you do and thank you, sir.

The President. Thank you.

Mr. Montana. Thank you. Mr. President, first let me congratulate you also on your victory. And secondly, I also would like, on behalf of my teammates, say thank you for your hospitality here this afternoon. It means a lot to all of us. Not very often do I get to see many of these guys in ties. [Laughter] And thirdly, we'd like to present you with a little token of our appreciation, little autographed balls from the Super Bowl, and say best of luck to you. We wish you the best and thank you.

The President. Thank you, that's great. Thank you very much.

Mr. Rice. Mr. President, we're glad to be here. We'd like to thank you for bringing us out into your wonderful home. [Laughter] You know, I looked forward to this day and I just hope that we get an opportunity to come back next year and stand right here before you. And on behalf of the San Francisco 49'ers, I'd like to present you with this ball and -- --

The President. Thank you so much -- the real thing. [Laughter]

Mr. Rice. That's the real thing from the Super Bowl.

The President. Thank you very much. Thank you so much. Good luck to you.

Mr. Walsh. Mr. President, we have also -- we know you're a runner, so we have a running suit. I'm not sure we suggest running the streets of Washington, DC, in this suit. [Laughter] In fact, we're somewhat concerned we're sort of -- a little bit of overkill here. Remember, the Redskin fans are all around us. [Laughter] But we do feel so proud to be part of this, to have won a world's championship, but also, to be in your presence because we think you're going to do the greatest job we've seen in many, many years as President of the United States. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:05 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. Edward J. DeBartolo was the owner of the San Francisco 49'ers.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
1000 George Bush Drive West, College Station, Texas 77845
Telephone: (979) 691-4000 | Facsimile: (979) 691-4050 | TTY: (979) 691-4091