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. Patrick, Mass.

    I wish none of them would go. It's about time we stop worshipping professional sports figures and have our public officials dedicate themselves to important matters like their actual jobs: governing.

    May 21, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  2. VICTIM of "Obama Victim"

    To those of you who searched and FOUND a way to turn this into yet another opportunity to say something nasty about OUR current president...

    YOU are the reason this country is in the shape it is in.

    May 21, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  3. The Game

    Big fish in a small pond ... who is he and who cares who he is anyway?

    May 21, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  4. Bob

    What a idiot! He should respect President and White House, President can't invite every body. Stupid, non sense reasoning....

    May 21, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  5. VICTIM of "Obama Victim"

    dumb

    May 21, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  6. OneLove

    I went to school with James.....he was a jerk back them......I see he graduated to a BIGGER jerkl!!

    May 21, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  7. VICTIM of "Obama Victim"

    guess I am again shut out of posting while paid posters like mike and phoenix86 get to spew hate unscathed...

    May 21, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  8. Good for Harrison

    Rather than have 60 guys travel from Pittsburgh to DC why not have one guy Obama travel from DC to the Steelers Camp. I would not have gone either

    May 21, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  9. len

    he has a RIGHT do as he sees fit ...it's funny how INTOLLERANT the obot nation can be. but they can remind everyone else how they should act...

    May 21, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. SayWhat?

    Oh and– who care's if he didn't take the invite and go to the White House? WHO CARES? Just because "everyone else is" he should? Or because it's an "honor"? An honor would be getting a heroic metal from the president. Asking to come look at the White House and meet the President isn't an honor. People tour the White House EVERY DAY! I mean, if I were invited I would go just to say I did... but heck, just because some one didn't go doesn't mean that person should be called names or be judged.

    May 21, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  11. George

    I can't believe how stupid some of the comments on here are. Where were you guys when he turned down the invitation when Bush was President? It wasn't a big thing then and it isn't a big thing now. Does he not have the right to make the decision? Oh wait, I forgot...if you don't goose step with the Democrat's, you're evil. Give the guy a break...He not supporting the Republicans or dissing the Democrats. He's exercising his God given and constitutional right to do what he wants. You guys do remember the constitution?

    May 21, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  12. Getaclue

    Put the politics aside you morons who are bashing Obama. ALL PRESIDENTS invite the winners of the SB, WS etc to visit the White Houese. Bush did the same thing. So get a clue please.

    May 21, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  13. WILLY

    May he is afraid of BO? I don't know!

    May 21, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  14. Jazzy

    @Paul, CA May 21st, 2009 4:43 pm ET
    YOU GUYS MUST BE RELATED (idiots) he ignored both President Bush and President Obama

    May 21, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. Independent

    Oh PLEASE CNN, why are you making this such a big deal...it is NOTHING!!!!!!! He didn't show when Bush was there, so why is it so important now!!!!

    I know it isn't a slow news day, heaven forbid, you have already torn the Presidents speech apart....

    May 21, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  16. cowboy

    listen to all the lefty's on this junk news site. if you want to get a lefty point of view come here or go to MSNBC,CBS,ABC...always pointing the finger. the reason he don't want to go is because he dosen't want to be seen with a loser like obamy and his moron accompanyment and fat ass wife...HAHAHAHAAAAAAAA

    May 21, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  17. Hilary

    If he doesn't want to go that's his prerogative. The MSM is just making a big deal about it because he's African-American turning down a visit with the first African-American president. Who cares!

    May 21, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  18. alvino

    Harrison is an example of what can happen to you if you play football without a helmet.

    May 21, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  19. seipher

    I understand Harrison's feelings, but it's been a tradition for many many years to meet the president of the FREE WORLD after winning the Super Bowl. this is sad to say but its kind of a pissy fit that he's throwing here. "why should I go, if the cardinals won they woulda been invited" that’s just it Harrison! The cardinals didn't win! YOU DID. So swallow your pride and humbly accept the honor and privilege of meeting the president of the US.

    May 21, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  20. Joshua, Baltimore

    Hines Ward looks like he is having a good time too!

    May 21, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  21. JL

    "As a steeler fan...When harrison and his agent kept coming out with different excuses that even my 7 year old wont make... thats the reason this gained [the] publicity it did..."
    I agree. All he had to say was 'I didn't go last time, either'. End of story. Who would turn down an invitation to the White House, though? That's an honor and a privilege as an American.

    May 21, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  22. John R Jones

    Mr.Harrison
    Although im not a steelers fan, I respect any man who follow his own heart and true to his beliefs, whats the big deal anyway his job is playing football and he is a great player and the Steller Nation loves him because he wins ,not for sucking up to the pressure of other people . The President is only a man .So much for Freedom of choice

    May 21, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  23. Fritz43

    Wow, lots of wing-nut sore losers here!

    Ya'll are just going to have to put up with grownups in charge, probably for about the next 25 years.

    'Course, you can always emigrate; Mexico sounds like a sporty destination. Or, hell, just secede. Yeah, that's gonna happen.

    I am a die-hard Steeler fan, but Harrison, I dunno. I'll bet when they were handing out brains, he thought they said "trains" and yelled, "I'll take the next one."

    May 21, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  24. cowboy

    listen to all the lefty's on this junk news site. if you want to get a lefty point of view come here or go to MSNBC,CBS,ABC…always pointing the finger. the reason he don't want to go is because he dosen't want to be seen with a loser like obamy and his moron accompanyment and moron wife…HAHAHAHAAAAAAAA

    May 21, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  25. debsup

    Hey Cowboy, that's the reason he didn't go last time.

    May 21, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13