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. John-Black Hills/SD

    I don't quite follow the rational Harrison used for his not showing up for the White House invitation. I will say that his statements show that repeated concussions do effect your cognitive functioning. At least it's an excuse we can understand.

    May 21, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  2. Peter (CA)

    CNN-

    Non-story here.
    All it does is give the same right wing whack jobs a chance to spew.

    May 21, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  3. Relative of John Marshall, Chief Justice

    I would not go either even as a tourist. Until people who are living in poverty are educated and there is real equality for all including gender equality I will have to choose to boycott visiting the White House.

    May 21, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. Jeffer65

    Who at CNN is picking these stories? This is not news.

    May 21, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  5. Rick

    How 'bout this, James.......if you want to see me at a Steelers game, you give me tickets instead of paying for it. Nobody called you ANYTHING except selfish.. IT'S A TRADITION, STUPID! You made it into what it is! If you don't talk, things don't get printed.

    May 21, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  6. Alicia

    CNN.............with Repub State of the Union John and Bias with Bull Brown....you forgot to put in the title he did the same when Bush was there!!!!!!!!!!!

    **I am from Pittsburgh, this guy supported President Obama. Saw him at a rally.

    May 21, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  7. tedk

    If Arizona won, they would have been invited instead? You think? Harrison should give back his superbowl ring, too. After all, if Arizona won, they would have been offered the rings instead.

    May 21, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  8. a little sad

    What's wrong with this story is that it's reported as a story.

    Harrison has every right to decide not to go or go as he wishes. It's a free country.

    He has passed on attending in the past and is continuing to do so.

    Give the guy a break.

    (I wish I always had the guts to say "I just don't wanna go", when I don't wanna go. I'd have many less rubber chicken dinners in my life.

    May 21, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  9. Jennifer Lee

    I am a huge Steeler fan. I am a little embarassed about why James Harrison did not attend the White House. This is a tradition. A sports team wins or an Olympian wins a medal he or she is invited to the White House. I do not see Obama calling me to go to the White House. I did not do anything "special" like win the Super Bowl. Harrison need to get off his high horse and be proud to have been invited to the White House because he is a Super Bowl Champion! Oh and by the way, Arizona would have been invited if they would have won and so will the next Super Bowl Champions!

    May 21, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  10. Thomas

    So he didn't want to go to the White House, no big deal. Next time, though, she should just say that he doesn't feel like it and leave it at that. The more the guy talks, the more stupid he sounds. His logic is idiotic and he cements it with: "Hey, James ain't changed." Genius.

    May 21, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  11. jason

    Oh give it up! Please! You are nothing special! You won. GO to the white house

    May 21, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  12. Ivan

    Not everybody likes Obama. Ever think about that?

    May 21, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Why do we care whether he goes or not?

    May 21, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  14. Outfitter

    First of all, this is not news worhy.

    Second of all, this is another instance showing that the media works in conjunction with the powers that be to create any diversions to occupy the minds of the masses (sheep) in order to divert attention from the true problems of this world....and sadly it works...

    Third of all, in the USA the president is nothing more than a man equal to every other citizen in our country. He is not a God, King, or any other type of annointed being. He is simply elected by the majority of the electorate. It is no different than refusing to go to a neighbors house who is given to pomp and circumstance....unless of course you somehow are in awe of this man.

    May 21, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  15. John James

    THIS IS NEWS? ARE YOU FREAKIN SERIOUS? ITS CALLED "THE TRADITIONAL WINNER'S TRIP TO THE WHITE HOUSE" NOT THE LOSERS TRIP. Why do these morons get paid so much? And why do these other morons get paid to write this drivel? Give me a break.

    May 21, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  16. Joseph, Los Angeles California

    I was not a Bush fan, however I would have never given up on the opportunity to spend time with the most powerful man in the world. I would have shaken President Bush's hand gleefully and respectfully. This guy is stubborn and does not understand the word "opportunity."

    May 21, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  17. WhoCares

    Who cares if he decided not to go? Is this really news does it affect anyone if this guy didn't want to me another guy. At the end of the day its just two people. I'm glad he wasn't star struck.

    I wouldn't go either but then again....do you care?

    May 21, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  18. Roberto Chidaine

    This guy is just plain DUMB!

    May 21, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  19. jaye

    This is just plain stupid on Harrison's part......he'll lose lots of fans and give the Steelers a black eye.

    May 21, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  20. Eric of Boston

    Go James Harrison! Here is a man who is his own man. So little of this type of person around anymore. He's doesn't care what political party is in power, he doesn't want to go. And I respect that – a lot. People who are down on him for sticking to his guns on this – go jump in a lake!

    May 21, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  21. Hotti4BHO

    He should do it for all the slaves you never saw civilisation or the whitehouse and not for his over-inflated ego.

    May 21, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  22. Brenda in Detroit

    What is wrong with this guy? A chance to go to the White House and meet the President of the United States? What an ego! He needs to get over himself.

    May 21, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  23. Lora

    "if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl"

    Ok, then invite ME, when I'm not a professional sports player at all.

    May 21, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  24. Democratic Party

    I blame Bush for this not Harrison

    May 21, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  25. Kenyan Wonder Kid

    Harrison is in real DEEP DOO DOO now. No one, but NO ONE dare deny the messiah!

    May 21, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
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