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. Ronaldo

    I guess he's not getting the attention he needs from football......

    May 21, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  2. Felonious Monk

    This is just moronic.

    How is this news?

    Why is this relevent?

    May 21, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. getagrip

    what a jerk. 'nuff said.

    May 21, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. The Broker.

    The American Situation? Is there realy "room" for conflict. Who is drunk with power? You assume too much CNN, and know so very little.

    May 21, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. cory

    obaaaaaaaaaaaama...come on sheeple, he isn't the change we've been asking for. his campaign made a lot of promises but just do a little research and watch the obama deception to see what he's actually done

    May 21, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  6. Dallas Independent - thank goodness

    @MD – you just go ahead and go but keep you bad English to yourself – I don't blame the man as I wouldn't go either! And I believe the proper term is "sitting". I wouldn't think of Obama as a "place setting" of dinnerware. He is a "sitting" President of the .....

    May 21, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  7. desertmetro

    Harrison just proves what most of us already knew... The bad guys won that super bowl.

    May 21, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  8. The Broker.

    a Mut! Is a type of Dog.

    May 21, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. MM from Canada

    The President and First Lady have made it very clear that they want the White House to be the people's house. Lots of different people get invited: school children, activists, musicians, athletes, regular folk who are lucky. If Harrison doesn't want to go, let someone else go in his place!

    Not going is rude and speaking to the press about is is even worse.

    May 21, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  10. Joe Terrogano

    Who cares? Give me a break. Let's move on.

    May 21, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  11. DEBORAH GARCIA

    Mr. Harrison the reason it's a "big thing" now, is because it's Obama you're not going to see. God forbid, you treat him the same as any other past president.

    May 21, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  12. lefty loosy

    Its a free country , he can do what he wants.

    May 21, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  13. tj

    He turn down Bush as well so why is it a big deal Repnuts?

    May 21, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. Joe

    "phoenix86" He said it wasn't politcal. You twit. READ the article.

    May 21, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  15. itbeme

    The Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers made the traditional winner's trip to the White House Thursday.......

    As far as I'm concerned, he would've invited Arizona if they had won.....

    well dauhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

    May 21, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. adam

    Um. Who cares? He didn't see Bush, he doesn't want to see Obama. Big deal.

    May 21, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  17. annie s

    Not much of a football fan, but James Harrison sounds like an arrogant jerk.

    May 21, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  18. Alfred E. Neumann

    Here's a quarter sports fans, call someone who cares!

    May 21, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  19. euaggelion

    You mean he didn't goto the Messiah's party!!! Behead him!!! Please, I would of showed up just so I could have told Obama what I thought of him, then the cops would have had to drag me off.

    May 21, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  20. Lisa

    Who gives a --? It's like when you throw a party-you invite people but don't MAKE them show up.

    May 21, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  21. Jacked Up Polictics_FLORIDA

    Why are we even concerned with who is visiting the White House. I could care less whether or not key players did not attend. Many of them don't attend. And the point is......

    May 21, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  22. brian whatley

    He's really showing how stupid he is. He needs to look at the bigger picture, he has a chance to meet the first Black President and he turns it down. This is something he could have told his kids, on second thought hopefully someone that stupid won't have kids and pass those traits on to them.

    May 21, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  23. A. D.

    I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan and I was pulling for Arizona, so I could careless that that guy didn't go to the White House. I was so hoping that the not miss guy and his team would lose. I don't think it bother the President that he didn't show up. One thing I agree with this guy, what's his name? Why make a big deal out of it. It's not like it was Kobe Bryant or Lebron James.

    May 21, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  24. Joe

    If the football player was white it would be racism.

    May 21, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  25. Sean

    Hey, if the man wants to go through life based on idiotic logic, then that's his prerogative. I mean seriously, "if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl"? Really? Okay dude. Enjoy life in dumb-ville....

    May 21, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
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