Biden Dons Kansas City Helmet to Celebrate Its Super Bowl Victory

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On Friday, President Biden urgently called for an end to the war in Gaza. He solemnly discussed the rule of law after former President Donald J. Trump’s criminal conviction. And he donned a shiny red helmet to the whoops and cheers of a pack of football players and fans.

The visit to the White House by the Kansas City Chiefs to celebrate their second straight Super Bowl win gave the president a few moments of frivolity in a week replete with sobering events.

“Winning back-to-back — I kind of like that,” Mr. Biden said, hinting at the tough re-election bid he faces in his rematch with Mr. Trump. He added, “When the doubters question if you can pull it off again, believe me, I know what that feels like.”

The South Lawn celebration was a blip on the president’s schedule, squeezed between a meeting with the prime minister of Belgium and his weekend plans in Rehoboth Beach, Del., during a month with an endless string of campaign events. Yet, with some of the National Football League’s most famous names, it carried a certain celebrity wattage.

Still, the spotlight was far dimmer than it could have been. Taylor Swift did not make the trip with her boyfriend, the star tight end Travis Kelce, as she was touring in Europe and had performed in Madrid on Thursday night.

The White House had previously said it was up to the Chiefs whether to extend an invitation to the star musician, who has largely avoided embroiling herself in politics. She endorsed Mr. Biden in 2020, leading to speculation about whether she would do so again.

The ceremony on the South Lawn came after the Chiefs’ Super Bowl win in February, but just over a month after Ms. Swift released her latest album, which has at least one track that nods to Mr. Kelce, who, as she sings, knows “how to ball.”

“Travis, where’s Taylor?” a journalist shouted near the end of the ceremony, prompting a murmur of disapproval from the crowd. Mr. Kelce, in a light-colored suit and dark shades, did not appear to react to the question.

Mr. Biden nudged Mr. Kelce to the podium during the ceremony, but said that he was apprehensive: “I’d have Travis come up here, but God only knows what he’d say.”

Mr. Kelce, who sneaked up to the microphone at last year’s ceremony but was redirected by quarterback Patrick Mahomes before he could make any remarks, was less bold on Friday.

“They told me if I come up here, I’d get tased,” Mr. Kelce joked at the podium. He then quickly rejoined his teammates.

Also in attendance was Harrison Butker, the Chiefs kicker who attracted controversy this month for a commencement address at a Catholic liberal arts college in which he suggested that being a “homemaker” was a woman’s most important role. He also disparaged Pride Month, drawing rebukes from L.G.B.T.Q. groups. Mr. Butker stood silently in the back row alongside his teammates.

Coach Andy Reid and Clark Hunt, the team’s chief executive, rounded out the ceremony by giving Mr. Biden a Chiefs helmet to go with the custom jersey he was presented with last year. Mr. Reid scrambled to pull off Mr. Biden’s aviators as the president slipped it on to cheers of “Do it, do it!”

Mr. Biden praised the Chiefs for their response to a shooting in February at a celebration of their Super Bowl win in Kansas City, Mo., that left one woman dead and dozens wounded, including several children.

“One teen remembers Coach Reid giving him a hug, saying, ‘Just breathe, just breathe,’” Mr. Biden said. He added, “As a country, we have to do more to stop the tragic shootings before they happen.”

Speaking to reporters shortly after the ceremony on the South Lawn, Mr. Mahomes said it was special to see the president don a Chiefs helmet. “We didn’t expect that,” he said, adding, “You don’t take these moments for granted.”

Wide receiver Xavier Worthy, who was drafted by the Chiefs last month, paused a White House tour to step up to the podium inside the briefing room and tease a third winning season: “Three-peat, baby.”

He and several other players had already seemed to master one of Washington’s oldest trades: When asked whether they would get involved in Mr. Biden’s re-election bid, they did not answer.



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