May 21st, 2009
05:38 PM ET
13 years ago

Steelers visit White House - without star player

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. John

    Bull – who care what this thick neck fool thinks! That's the problem with pro sports, strong like bull, mind weak like chicken!

    May 21, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  2. John

    No James, your not a devil worshiper, just another big headed fool.

    May 21, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  3. GOPer

    James Harrison is a moron.

    May 21, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  4. jwai

    is good. we even don't care about you. sorry

    May 21, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  5. I agree with James Harrison

    don't go

    and get back to work Obama

    May 21, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  6. Bob R.

    harrison is NO class...My son has been a steelers fan since he was 14, he is now 40 and says find harrison another place to be a dummy...

    May 21, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  7. rumrunner

    OMG what a jag !

    May 22, 2009 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
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