WASHINGTON • Cheers, a standing ovation and a gag gift of protective headgear greeted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she returned to work on Monday after a monthlong absence caused first by a stomach virus, then a fall and a concussion and finally a brief hospitalization for a blood clot near her brain.
A crowd of about 75 State Department officials greeted Clinton with a standing ovation as she walked in to the first senior staff meeting she has convened since early December, according to those present. Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides, noting that life in Washington is often a "contact sport, sometimes even in your own home" then presented Clinton with a gift a regulation white Riddell football helmet emblazoned with the State Department seal, officials said.
She was also given a blue football jersey with "Clinton" and the number 112 the record-breaking number of countries she has visited since becoming secretary of state printed on the back. Aides said Clinton was delighted with the gifts but did not try either of them on and the meeting turned to matters of national security and diplomacy.