DENVER – The White House held a press conference today denying rumors that a member of the President’s staff asked Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning to consider saying “Obama” instead of Manning’s usual “Omaha” during his pre-snap cadence.
The rumor, first reported by Ben Shapiro of breitbart.com, gained steam Thursday after the President said he was rooting for the Broncos in Sunday’s matchup against the New England Patriots.
“I’m a huge Peyton Manning fan because he always makes the right call,” Obama said in an interview with ESPN’s Chris Berman. “I may be the leader of the greatest country in the world, but there’s no way I could lead an offense the way he does.”
“I’m pretty sure even the NSA couldn’t decode all those audibles he uses before the snap,” Obama added, laughing. “I’m going to listen really closely on Sunday and try my best, though.”
Reaction to the rumor was swift among NFL and political pundits alike. ESPN analyst Mike Ditka said he believed President Obama was shamelessly trying to boost his approval rating by attaching himself to a true hero, while Fox News host and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee tweeted this pithy joke.
White House Spokesman Jay Carney issued a statement denying the claims this afternoon, blaming the conservative media for attempting to once again smear the President’s name.
“Neither President Obama nor any member of his staff has reached out to Peyton Manning,” Carney said. “Although having perhaps the most popular athlete in America repeatedly scream the President’s name while leading his team to victory in front of a stadium of cheering fans and a television audience of millions sounds like a good idea, the potential for jokes relating to game-changing interceptions or whether various player injuries would be covered by Obamacare would likely have a negative affect on the President’s poll numbers.”
“Hypothetically, of course,” Carney added. “It’s not like we thought about doing this or anything, just hypothetical.”
Manning was unable to be reached for comment, as he was reportedly looking at condos with his fiancé Papa John.