May 21st, 2009
05:38 PM ET
9 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. Shasta

    Wow...he's a little stupid. Of course they were invited because they won. That's sort of the point....

    May 21, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  2. Thomas

    Harrison, it is really simple. When you don't win Super Bowls you are a no-body, when you win Super Bowls you are a celeb.

    People are interested in celebs and not interested in no-bodys.

    Be thankful that you were on a winning team or no one would be interested in meeting you.

    You are just not that important of a person actually.

    May 21, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  3. JR

    Keep up the english lessons "broker", I can see you almost getting coherent.

    May 21, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  4. Independent in Virginia

    Maybe he was worried he's faint and never regain consciousness by being in the presence of Almighty Obama.

    That, or he's worried that Obama would take more of his money.

    May 21, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  5. Linda B., Ga.

    It's Harrison's loss, to not attend a ceremony honoring his team is a shame. Maybe the Steelers Coach might honor him with a BENCH seat for a couple of games....

    May 21, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  6. obambi

    why on earth would you libs care if a football star chooses not to go to the white house? This guy has accomplished more and worked harder than Obama to get where he is–give me a break.

    May 21, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. ray ray

    Funny – when the guy doesn't want to visit the White House under Bush ... no biggie.

    But when he refuses Obama... BLASPHEMY!!! The media creates a firestorm and O'bot's slam the guy.

    Just goes to show how delusional and dangerous the media and Obama supporters really are!

    May 21, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. Davis

    This guy isn't too bright. Geez!!!!

    May 21, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. williefloyd

    Too many games without a helmet???

    May 21, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. Brina

    Why didn't the media make a big deal out of this when he didn't go when President Bush was in office. The media is constantly trying to stir up mess.

    May 21, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. MJHS1967

    He is a DUMMY!!!

    Simple as that 😦

    May 21, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  12. puck fittsburge

    Why didn’t the commissioner ever discipline this idiot for stomping his cleat into an opposing player after the play in the super bowl? This guy is just a thug; don’t really care what he does. I will bet anyone on here this guy is in prison within 10 years of his playing career ending.

    May 21, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  13. Rob

    Wow, a football player doesn't want to be entangled in politics, declines an INVITATION from a Republican and a Democrat, and suddenly he's "ignorant," a "lug head," and a "self-absorbed moron?" I'd say he understands his role quite well. He's an athlete, not a puppet to be used for political photo opportunities. Besides, the last time I checked, the President can't compel the presence of a private citizen. Kudos to James Harrison for exercising his constitutional right TO BE LEFT ALONE.

    May 21, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  14. Daniel in PA

    Wow, talk about tiptoeing around the subject.... Just come out and say it, the shocking thing is he wouldn't want to visit with a black president.... that he isn't a huge fan. Because, he himself is black. Black, black, blackety black LOL

    May 21, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  15. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Good point. If you snub a republican president, the media is just fine with it. But let someone DARE to NOT show up to kiss the messiah's ring and WATCH OUT!!

    Good going, James! Thank you for having a mind of your own and seeing through these opportunistic phonies.

    May 21, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. T the B

    That's got to be one of the most rediculous reasons that I've ever heard. If you want to make a stand be a man and get behind it.

    May 21, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  17. The Party of NO is only "pro-choice" so they can kill them 18 years later in a religious war!

    Who is what's his name?

    May 21, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  18. Maxine

    I just want to know-who cares, and what has Harrison done with his life........oh yeah, he is a football star. I forgot how important that is.

    May 21, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. Sarge

    Re: Broker

    Your comment is so raciest....Your one of the morons in the Repukblican party...Big deal that the guy didn't want to attend..I see a great deal of BLACK Repuklicans who hate President Obama. It just amazes me that the black people in this country keep complaining about being treated unfairly, but yet they criticize the President.

    May 21, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  20. David

    This is why his job is running fast and catching a ball. Get him outside that box and he starts thinking for himself....which seems to not be such a good idea. NO you wouldn't be invited to the White House as the Super Bowl loser, NO you wouldn't get a Super Bowl ring if your team lost, NO you wouldn't get a million dollar contact if you don't run fast and catch footballs, and YES everyone thinks you are an idot.

    May 21, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  21. sniffthese

    he's an adult...if he doesn't want to go to the ursurper's residence, so be it.

    May 21, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  22. Larry S

    So what is the problem . . . this just happens to be a person of some intelligence and has no need to be an rear-end kisser . . . my, my, what a great story (ha ha).

    May 21, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  23. Lois

    Everyone is suppose to bow down to Obama; where have you been.

    May 21, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  24. Dennis

    I don't believe you can be forced to go to the White House. At any rate Harrioson's job performance is better than current occupant.

    May 21, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  25. Larry S

    Why is this even a story???
    Come on people and CNN . . . get your head out of your butts.

    May 21, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
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