WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama has saluted the 1985 Chicago Bears, his hometown team, for winning the Super Bowl a quarter century ago.

Key players on the team, fabled for their on-field performances and off-field high-jinx, appeared on a sun washed South Lawn of the White House Friday to hear Obama declare: “This is as much fun as I will have as president of the United States.”

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Among those in attendance was then Bears Coach Mike Ditka, who turned down Republican entreaties in 2004 to run against Obama for the U.S. Senate. Good thing, Obama joked. “I would have been terrible on ESPN.”

The team did not get the usual White House recognition in 1986, an oversight attributed to the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, which occurred days after that Super Bowl game.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.