Patriots visit Obama at White House

Washington, DC ( - President Barack Obama praised the New England Patriots on Thursday, calling them "as good an organization as there has ever been in professional sports," but also found time to poke fun at the team and some of his own people.

After noting how many Patriots fans serve in congress and work at the White House -- "I obviously did not screen properly when I was hiring" he joked -- Obama looked into the audience.

"I just also want to point out that, despite the fact that he travels probably more than any human on Earth, somehow my Secretary of State, John Kerry, found a front-row seat to be here today," Obama said, referring to the former Massachusetts senator and presidential candidate. "So give it up for John Kerry."

The Patriots visited Washington to celebrate their fourth Super Bowl title under coach Bill Belichick, who is well known for wearing hooded sweatshirts with cutoff sleeves on the sideline during games.

Thursday, the coach wore a suit and tie.

"I'm particularly grateful that coach decided to dress up today," Obama joked. "We had some scissors if he wanted to cut the sleeves off. Formal hoodies are allowed."

Jokes are the norm at these celebrations and Obama's touched on the deflated balls controversy that dogged the Patriots as they readied to play Seattle in February.

"I usually tell a bunch of jokes at these events," the president said, "but with the Patriots in town, I was worried that 11 out of 12 of them would fall flat."

The Patriots posed for pictures with the president on a chilly afternoon on the South Lawn of the White House. They gave him a No. 44 jersey to hold up with Obama on the back.

Quarterback Tom Brady did not make the trip, reportedly because of a prior family commitment.