(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
Gosh! You think we can have more stories on something really important like FORECLOSURES AND HOW CONGRESS HAS ONCE AGAIN SCREWED US BY PANDERING TO THE BANKS???
Why aren't you talking about the collusion between the banks and government officials which has caused many honest hardworking people to lose their jobs, homes and retirements?
Instead, this is what we have to comment on? I am glad we have MSNBC....
this non-story reeks.
Never heard of him.
I always thought the adult and well mannered thing to do was to accept an invitation to the White House when asked. He should have accepted when President Bush invited him as well.
Grow up – you play a game and you are invited to meet the President of the United States. Perhaps you would like to quit playing and work for a living!
I think the issue is he was disrespectful to Dan Rooney by not going since Dan Rooney has such important ties to the president. It wasn't an issue with bush becase the owner of the steelers wasn't personally involved with Bush like he is Obama.
If my boss asked me to represent my company in this sort of public recognition I would be expected to participate.
Decline an invitation to the White House and suddenly you're a "jerk" or a "moron" or a "crass and arrogant guy." Oh, brother. What disturbs me is that too many of us Americans regard elected officials as celebrities or even royalty. Generally speaking, they work for us, not the other way around.
I don't care if he goes..His choice for sure.
His reasoning was that of a 4 year old though.
Who cares if he stayed home.I just want to see Cheney get what Mussolini got.
I didn't know black people were allowed to be against Obama????
I'm confused?? Didn't they vote for him like 95%?
James Harrison hasn't been drinking his Kool-Aid!!!!
Welcome to a new low in the right wing paranoia about liberal bias in the media
What's the big deal? Why is this political? Who cares if a private citizen doesn't want to go to the White House to meet the president?
It's a tradition, moron. I think you've been hit too many times. Might want to consider an MRI...
Everyone is talking about this because of the reason he gave for not going otherwise, it would have been a none story. Some of you should watch ESPN more.
James you ain't missing anything special there, just a guy in a suit too big for him.
Slow news day? C'mon! Who cares? "Cheesus" would be more newsworthy than this.
No one cares that he declined to go. His reasoning was rather stupid though. The WINNERS have always gone to the White House. Why would the losers go?
The media didn't even make this big of a deal when we was arrested for beating up his girlfriend last year during the offseason... This guy must be dull
What an idiot its a tradition to invite the winning team. Someone thinks awfully highly of themself!
So, this guy (as someone predicts) is going to be in jail within the next ten years. That should get him a Cabinet nomination. He's holding out for a bigger invite. And, he'd be bringing a wealth of experience to the White House, a refreshing change. I wonder how quickly he can spend my grandchildren's money?
Oh snap! I agree with him. Period.
I can understand him turning down Bush.....but turning down President Barack Obama? This guy should be thrown out of the NFL.
Okay.why invite a team that did not win the Superbowl.............. harrison is up for trade anyone want him????
This illustrates that Harrison is a loser. What a jerk! Cut him!
This is a non-issue....can we just PLEASE give a few more Billon to Bank of America???.....we haven't seen anything given away in a few days....c'mon with the photo op....give the White House to Citigroup.....
I think it's high time to just dump the asinine "tradition" of inviting pro sports "winners" to the White house. What actual national significance is there to a professional athlete's accomplishments? Answer: None, beyond some mindless entertainment and a means of generating advertising revenue for big corporations.
Here is a man with a back bone, most people would jello to the white if invited and asked to be there by 3:00am.