WASHINGTON (CBS) — The New England Patriots visited the White House to meet President Obama, but Tom Brady was not with them.

The president honored the Super Bowl champions at a reception on the South Lawn on Thursday afternoon.

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“I want to offer my congratulations first of all to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and I also want to acknowledge coach Bill Belichick,” President Obama said. “I said to the team, and I think even those of us who have other teams we root for, the Patriots organization is as good an organization as there has ever been in professional sports. To be able to maintain that kind of consistent excellence is a rare thing in any field, including on the football field. And that’s a testament to outstanding ownership, it’s a testament to a Hall of Fame coach. And I’m particularly grateful that Coach decided to dress up today. We had some scissors if he wants to cut the sleeves off. Formal hoodies are allowed.”

Photos: Patriots Honored At White House

The president couldn’t resist making a DeflateGate joke.

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

After accepting his razzes from the crowd behind him, Obama said the DeflateGate situation “got blown a little out of proportion.”

Obama also joked that when speaking with Rob Gronkowski, “I told him to keep his shirt on. He asked me what would happen if he took it off. I told him Secret Service probably wouldn’t like it. He said ‘What could they do to me?'”

Brady reportedly had a family commitment that kept him from attending.

Before the ceremony, Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and several players visited wounded men and women at Walter Reed Medical Center.

This was the fourth time the Patriots have been guests at the White House after winning the Super Bowl.

The last time was ten years ago, when George W. Bush was president.

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President George W. Bush poses with the New England Patriots April 13, 2005. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President George W. Bush poses with the New England Patriots April 13, 2005. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)