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. mike

    Sounds like he has no pains.Or brains. Its a tradition to be invited.He took it as an insult.

    May 21, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  2. Beth

    I think I would have had more respect for Harrison if he'd not gone because he disagreed with Obama's politics. But, to not go because he was ONLY invited because they won the Super Bowl...makes him a super idiot.

    I'm glad the rest of the team had a good time.

    May 21, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  3. Mobius

    He's got good sense.

    The money that photo opp cost could've saved someone from foreclosure or helped pay down the MASSIVE debt.

    May 21, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  4. the rector

    More power to the man! Obama has far more important things to do than suck up to, or be sucked up to by , NFL players.

    May 21, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  5. Claudia in Houson

    Mr. President I would be more than happy to show in Harrison's place as many others do.

    May 21, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  6. Tunstall

    I would never pay the big bucks for a ticket to one of the steelers game, and they lose, just how do you think your fans feel when you lose? I know? I will never buy another ticket. Some people are just plain oh dumb, no class, etc Its an honor to be invited to the white house; the president of the United States especially the first black president.

    May 21, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  7. Thinking Straight

    James Harrison has snubbed two Presidents, so clearly his motivation is not political, but based on some personal values. Then again maybe he is just an idiot.

    May 21, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  8. cowboy

    debsup::: you're probably rite there as well

    May 21, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  9. Al

    No, Harrison isn't a devil worshipper........he's just a freakin' idiot!

    May 21, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  10. John Stallwart

    Who gives a darn hoot to see Ob ama ,I could care less if I ever see the idiot.

    May 21, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  11. Derrick

    Who cares if he didn't go?! Is this really news? It is his lost oportunity. Why does the rest of us have to know about it?

    May 21, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  12. Alicia

    Good for you James Harrison!

    I respect the fact that you are being consistent....you didn't go when Bush was there and now you aren't going when Obama is at the White House.

    You seem to be standing on principle and have not wavered for political reasons.

    Good for you!

    May 21, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. jon c. sprowl

    why is this news ? who cares ? dont we have much more important things to talk aboet ?

    May 21, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  14. FJ from Atlanta

    James is a freakin' idiot!

    May 21, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  15. Jeff W.

    Can you imagine? One of the most historically important presidents in U.S. history and this dolt gives up the opportunity to meet him for stupid person reasons. This makes sense, though, I'm betting Harrison never advanced much beyond a 6th grade education.

    May 21, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. phoenix86

    Good for Harrison to at least say the truth about Obama.

    May 21, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  17. Charm

    This guy sounds like a moron. Why is the media giving him so much press about it?

    May 21, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  18. The Broker.

    Who wrote Borack Obama's speach. How lond did it take (AFTER THE THE FACT).... Obama is an Idiot. How do I catch Fish. "I use bait on an empty hook".... Is there such a thing?????

    May 21, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  19. Hoosier at Heart

    We had the fortune of visiting the West Wing when Bush was in office, and got to shake his hand at the Marine One landing the next day. Now I'm not a fan of Bush by any means, but I still think that was one of the coolest things I have ever done. I shook the hand of the leader of the free world!

    Point is when the president invites you to celebrate the fact that you won the super bowl, you attend. If he invites you to come over for a hot dog, you go.

    Petty to think that he should be invited outside of winning the super bowl as if he is extraordinary because he plays football.

    May 21, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  20. Dave

    I disagree with Obama a lot, I didn't vote for him. BUT James Harrison is a moron! The Prez always invites the Super Bowl winners and it should be an honor to be invited.

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

    This is not news, but I respect his decision.

    May 21, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  22. Mental midgit from phoenix

    This guy is a hero.I love a man that can beat his girlfriend or wife senseless.Quit picking on my on my wife , Phoenix86,she is a wonderful person and posts comments all day for free,here in our trailor.

    May 21, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  23. Randolph Carter

    Now there is change: Winners in the white house. Nyuck Nyuck. Have a nice long weekend! Rest up and do some grilling. Your homework assignment is to not get on the CNN website and trash talk. Get outdoors and have fun instead. That goes for Liberals too. See y'all Tuesday.

    May 21, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  24. MD

    Harrison was stupid for not going BOTH times. 99.9% of the American people don't get invited to the White House EVER. Let alone twice by 2 setting Presidents. What an idiot...

    May 21, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  25. Bertin Evina-Ze

    Very strange! He just a total lack of respect for the Pres of the United States. This guy can really play football but he is not very intelligent.

    May 21, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
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