May 21st, 2009
05:38 PM ET
5 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. ChiGuy

    Why does it always have to be a racial thing with the readers of CNN? I thought you were supposed to be compassionate or something like that. At least that's what I keep reading.

    A president is a president. He didn't want to meet the last one, he doesn't want to meet this one.

    May 21, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  2. Derric Brown

    He doesn't want to meet the Pittsburgh Steelers....he wants to meet the Super Bowl Champions.

    May 21, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  3. Post always rejected by CNN

    His lost.

    May 21, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  4. Charles

    No, he's not a devil worshiper, but he does act ike Cheney's first name!

    May 21, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  5. JPC

    James' attitude is silly! He obviously invited the "WINNERS"! So what! If Arizona had won, then they would have been invited. Big deal! Don't go. Stay your silly butt at home!

    May 21, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  6. proud army navy mom

    pittsburg steelers are my favorite team too, James you're idiot

    May 21, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  7. P. Mathew

    His logic doesn't make any sense...but at least he is consistent.

    May 21, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  8. Gary

    Sounds like Harrison has a big enough ego to run for office himself someday. This is his loss, having the opportunity to meet a President, any President is a one in a life time opportunity.

    May 21, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  9. Peter E

    Harrison is just attention hungry. He is creating more publicty for himself, for an event that nobody really cared about anyway. Superbowl champions visiting White House? Nobody really cared, it's just normal. Harrison just wanted to put his name in headlines. Way to show your 'I' in yout team spirit!

    May 21, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  10. Oregon calling

    ok, although I do not agree with him at least he did it before and to a different political party. Maybe the President should take heed and next year when the Steeler's don't win the Super Bowl, he should be invited.

    Peace :-)

    May 21, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  11. ken

    Don't go if you don't want to go but at least be informed of what's actually going on. It's been a tradition that the winners of the championships of all the sports get invited to the White House. They don't invite the losers because they're losers. They only have time for the winners. Is this guy an idiot?

    May 21, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  12. john

    He is just a kid who was not taught what level the united states president is from all people.....

    May 21, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  13. Leon

    God's hands are off, this White House.

    May 21, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  14. Simmy

    I heard him when he made his statement......You know the saying about having others think you're a fool.........He opened his mouth....

    May 21, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  15. m smith

    This is a free country . e may look like a jerk but it is his choice . At least he is consistant

    May 21, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  16. mike

    I wouldn't waste my time visiting a zero either.

    May 21, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  17. donttreadonme

    He is a rascist. That is why he doesn't want to meet the President.

    May 21, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  18. Sean the thinker

    Peter, I agree. This is a non-issue and unfortunately those who dislike Obama or disagree with his policies or ideology will use this story as a platform to demonize him.

    May 21, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  19. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    What a narcissistic jerk this guy is.

    I hope he reads these posts and gets a good picture of who he really is.

    He is also ungrateful for the blessings he has.

    May 21, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  20. Joe

    Somebody needs more padding inside his helmet, though it may be too late.

    May 21, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  21. A Proud Arrogant American

    Steelers visit Stealers. WOW!

    May 21, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  22. Jesse, MI

    So he's not going. Big deal. Let him stay home. I think his head is too big to get on a plane anyway.

    Let the president invite me, I'd be there in a heartbeat.

    Obama 2012

    May 21, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  23. John

    Mr Harrison – who cares what you think? Not me – or anybody that I know. Your just a spoiled brat making way too much money and because of people like you, I have stopped watching football!

    May 21, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  24. Marnie, SC

    Someday his great-great grandkids are going to say, "What a fool great-great grand-daddy must have been".

    I'm just sayin'...

    May 21, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  25. Deitra, NH

    It's very simple. This was a "winner's trip". There was no room for losers. James did the right thing by staying home. He doesn't belong at the White House because he doesn't know how to act.

    The White House finally has a winner living there, and losers should not take a picture with our beloved president.

    May 21, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13