In introducing Stillwater native Denis McDonough as his new chief of staff before a White House gathering on Friday, President Obama gave several nods to the home state of the newly installed right-hand man.

Most notable among Obama's shout-outs to reliably Democratic Minnesota was noting McDonough's "college football days as a defensive back under the legendary John Gagliardi" at St. John's University from 1988-91.

Then came the president's zinger: "I always tease Denis that he made up for modest talents with extraordinary dedication and a high threshold for pain.

"This does remind me of perhaps the one topic on which Denis and I will never agree, and that is Vikings vs. Bears," said Obama, who is from Chicago.

For the record, McDonough fared quite well for the small-school football powerhouse as a safety, with 171 tackles and 12 interceptions during his college career.

Obama began by emphasizing that just because McDonough is now in the inner-most ring of the Oval Office's inner circle, he's "a pretty humble guy. To so many of his friends and admirers, he's still just the dude from Stillwater, Minnesota."

While posted in the nation's capital, McDonough has upheld the Twin Cities' reputation as a bicycle-friendly community, but Obama said his top aide "will probably have to stop riding his bike to work. As chief of staff, I don't think that's allowed."