May 21st, 2009
05:38 PM ET
6 years ago

Steelers visit White House - without star player

President Obama with Pittsburgh Steelers' wide receiver Hines Ward.
President Obama with Pittsburgh Steelers' wide receiver Hines Ward.

(CNN) – The Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers made the traditional winner's trip to the White House Thursday - but one of the team's star players was conspicuously missing from the lineup.

Linebacker James Harrison told reporters earlier this week he'd be a no-show at the White House. He denied any political motivation for his decision. "This is how I feel - if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl. As far as I'm concerned, he would've invited Arizona if they had won," said Harrison, who later joked that he was staying away because the White House was located in a "bad neighborhood."

This isn't the first time Harrison has declined an invitation to visit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue - he turned down an invite from former President Bush after the Steelers won Super Bowl XL. "Let me ask you a question," he said Wednesday, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Why is it a big issue now that I'm not going if it wasn't a big issue the last time?

"...Hey, James ain't changed. I guess my profile did, but I didn't change. I'm not going because I don't want to go," he said. "They're making a big deal out of this: 'Oh, my, James Harrison is not going to the White House; he must be a devil worshipper!'"

Teammates have said the linebacker - whose 100-yard touchdown with an interception made Super Bowl history this year - is uncomfortable flying.

Harrison's boss, Steelers owner Dan Rooney, was a major supporter of President Obama's 2008 campaign, and was recently appointed ambassador to Ireland.The president openly rooted for a Steelers victory this year.

–CNN's Xuan Thai contributed to this report


Filed under: President Obama • White House
soundoff (309 Responses)
  1. shucks

    Harrison has always been a jerk. Now that he caught a ball and ran 100 yards, and signed a big contract worth millions he has advanced to the self absorbed morons club.

    May 21, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  2. RealityKing

    The difference now is that the progressive media is run by the state. And that makes any embrassment to the state, personal to the progressive media. Notice that its only they who protest your decision..

    May 21, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. denise

    Okay, so you don't need a ring either.....the only reason why they are giving you a ring is because you won?! Seeing the President is part of the package along with the ring. Stupid! You wonder why people think jocks are lug heads!

    May 21, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  4. Nathan,

    That guy Harrison is a moron. I don't believe he has to go to the White House but his arguement for not going would be an insult to a 5 year old. Its a good thing he can play football becasue his reasoning ability would have him sweeping streets if this is indicative of how his brain works.

    May 21, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  5. Polar Bears Against Palen

    The Steelers rule!!

    Harrison can do what he wants. I wouldn't go to the White House, either. Regardless of who it was or what party.

    May 21, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  6. Robin

    Wow, what's with all these celebrities parading through the White House?

    Did we elect a president or a movie star?

    May 21, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  7. Obama Victim

    I would avoid Obummer too

    May 21, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  8. Scott

    RealityKing needs to stop drinking the FAUX News Kool Aid.

    May 21, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  9. Kelby In Houston, TX

    "This is how I feel — if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl. As far as I'm concerned, he would've invited Arizona if they had won," said Harrison.

    *
    yeah, the winner of the Super Bowl gets invited tot he White House...did anybody explain this to him? The exposure of ignorance is saddening.

    May 21, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  10. once upon a horse

    well so much for that Limbaugh myth that ALL Black people support and worship Obama,,,,,,

    Mike Steele and Judge Thomas don't count!

    May 21, 2009 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. Cynthia - Arkansas

    It looks like he missed a wonderful time. Too bad.

    May 21, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  12. The Broker.

    More Borack Obama's. Steal the White House. Just because they are Black?

    May 21, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  13. donna

    This has NOTHING TO DO WITH OBAMA..he skipped the White House invite when BUSH WAS PRESIDENT TOO...he said he didn't want to go...move on...

    Robin, all SuperBowl champs visit the White House..just like the NBA Champs, the NCAA Champs, etc....that has ALWAYS been the case....

    @Obama Victim...I'm sure you'll NEVER be invited anyway so you have nothing to worry about....

    May 21, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    OMG big news here. Harrison never went to the White House during Bush's term either.

    May 21, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  15. Hank

    The Steelers really ought to have a CT done on this guy's brain. Way too much football!

    May 21, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  16. dotjet

    He gives new meaning to the term "dumb jock"

    May 21, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  17. JR

    He skipped out on meeting Bush once also. He's annoyed that Obama is meeting with the winners Who else would he meet with you fool, the losers?

    May 21, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  18. Had It

    Who cares. If someone doesn't want to go, they don't want to go. Obviously a "super reporter from CNN" has nothing else in this world to report on.

    May 21, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  19. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    Ha ha! I can't stop laughing when I hear his LAME excuse!

    "He would've invited the Cardinals had they won"........Yes he would have. That's the tradition!

    Why doesn't he just come out and admit he is afraid of airplanes. Sheesh!

    I don't like flying either.

    This dude is a headcase.

    May 21, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. CW, St. Paul

    James – the world doesn't revolve around you. Sorry to point that out.

    May 21, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. Bob

    Wow, what's with all these celebrities parading through the White House?

    Did we elect a president or a movie star?
    ________________________________________________________
    Robin you do realize that all presidents, not just Obama, have invited the champions of leagues to the White House.

    May 21, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. John G

    Ok so the winning team was invited to the White House and one player declined the invite...end of story?

    May 21, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. Anthony - Los Angeles

    Who cares? Why is this a story? So a football player didn't want to go to the White House to meet the president. Hard-hitting reporting.

    May 21, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  24. SS

    Who cares?

    May 21, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  25. JR

    Just had a thought, visitors to meet Obama have to go through a security check, I wonder what Harrison is afraid of?

    May 21, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
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