MANITOWOC, Wis. — Crushed when the Green Bay Packers defeated his beloved Chicago Bears to win the NFC championship, President Barack Obama predicted Wednesday that his team will even the score next year.
"Sunday was a tough day for Bears fans," he said at a Wisconsin energy company before giving a speech on the economy. "But even if it didn't go the way that I wanted, I'm glad to see that one of the greatest rivalries in sports is still there.
"And we will get you next year. I'm just letting you know," he said.
The Packers won last weekend's game, 21-14, dashing Obama's hopes of going to Arlington, Texas, for the Super Bowl on Feb. 6. He had said he would attend the game if the Bears emerged victorious.
Obama didn't let his hurt feelings get in the way of congratulating the Packers.
"In the spirit of sportsmanship, I wish you 'good luck' in the Super Bowl," he said.
Obama said he wanted to make it clear that he didn't come to Wisconsin "because I lost a bet." He was also clear about all the Green Bay jerseys he had received shortly after arriving.
"I've only been on the ground for an hour. I've got three jerseys," Obama said. "One of them is from (Packers cornerback Charles) Woodson and he just said, 'See you at the White House.'"
Obama was greeted on Green Bay's airport tarmac by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Green Bay Mayor James J. Schmitt. They gave Obama two Packers' jerseys — one with his name on the back and the other with the number 21 and Woodson's name.
"They're rubbing it in," Obama told reporters who traveled with him and witnessed the presentation.
Woodson had signed the jersey, "See you at the White House. Go Packers." He's also seen on Packers' video delivering a pep talk to teammates. "The president don't want to come watch us win the Super Bowl," he says. "Guess what? We'll go see him."
Speaking to reporters in Green Bay on Wednesday, Woodson said he voted for Obama — and jokingly suggested that meant the President owed it to him to back the Packers.
"I jumped on his bandwagon a couple years ago, and voted for him," Woodson said. "So for him to only go to the Super Bowl because Chicago's there, I thought it's not fair to me. I'm a voter, I'm a taxpayer. So I wanted him to root for the Packers as well."
A trip to the White House is traditional for the Super Bowl winner. Obama welcomed the New Orleans Saints last August.