May 21st, 2009
05:38 PM ET
12 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. Andyb

    aaahhh poor baby. whatsa mattah James is your diaper dirty? Sounds just like something a juvenile or better yet a toddler would do.

    May 21, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  2. Republicans are Facist

    Why do I love this President, even though I hate football with a passion, he acts like an American plain and simple.

    May 21, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  3. Mike D. in San Diego


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

    He just wants attention. Its so obv.

    May 21, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. Calvin

    this dude is a bum. how about we do this, kick him off the team and see him try to get a real job with the rest of us.....yeah right.
    Dude, just shut up

    May 21, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. Jabril Muhammad

    blah blah blah...blah blah blah..blah?? blah blah blah??
    oh...i'm sorry, i had my "who cares" text enabled. was there actually a point to any of this??

    May 21, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. Bananarama Victim II: Electric Boogaloo

    Obummer. I get it. Way to go Obama Victim! Have you visited the Obama Victim's CRisis Center yet? It's nice. Lot's of old people watching Matlock, sucking pepermints, going on about how "the ol' days were. Really nice. I suggest you check it out.

    May 21, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  8. thefan08

    As a steeler fan, i didnt think harrison not going to the wihte house was an issue, All he had to say was i dont feel like going to the white house then end of question. i mean who cares. But when harrison and his agent kept coming out with different excuses that even my 7 year old wont make, then thats the reason this gained more publicity than it did. but new media need to let it go, because harrison might not be the sharpest tool in the yard, but as long as he runs down running backs and quaterback for steeler wins, then i dont really care what he says.

    May 21, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. Ernesto

    Nobody really cares. He's just a football player. I'm certain that Obama noticed - Not.

    May 21, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. AIB

    This is just an Ignorant who He wants to play important. Plase not attention to him.

    May 21, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. Dee, NJ

    Congrat's U Steelers! That LB is NOT a man, he a boy!

    May 21, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. JonDie

    Not news.

    May 21, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Marie

    Would the Steelers have had time to visit the White House between January 20th and the Super Bowl? This guy is a diva!

    May 21, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  14. Scott H

    Dear Obamunists,
    Where was this "disrespecting the office" venom when this same player declined the Bush invitation from the 2006 SB win? Think about it. How was it not even a REPORTED story then, and now, since this in some way offends the Leftimedia, its an outrage?

    This Move.On.Org flavored Liberalism is about standing on one's head and telling the world it is upside down. If it wasn't for Lou Dobbs, CNN would be an absolute rag.

    May 21, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. Change_Has_Begun

    let it go who cares...

    May 21, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  16. Gary

    It's been said over and over again in this section in different ways, he doesn't have to go if he doesn't want to and it makes no difference to you people, Is this country no longer free? Is there no longer freedom of expression in this country?

    May 21, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. Proud Member..Party of No

    When he skipped the trip while Bush was president the media reported it with a wink and a smile. Now that he has skipped the trip to see Barry Hussein, the media is outraged.

    May 21, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  18. meeowmix

    This is a man who hit his babymama because she wouldn't have their baby baptized in the Catholic church. Another holy hypocrite.

    I think he'd be more comfortable in the Palin house.

    May 21, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  19. Sweet P

    Hey James, I hope your helmet fails!

    May 21, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. Stan

    OMG people just because he doesn't want to go to the White House you people are ready to have him drawn and quartered . This is still a free country, if he doesn't want to go then he doesn't want to go. It's as simple as that. I understand that for many on this board going to the White house and basking in the reflected glory of the president is your life ambition but this man has made his own glory and doesn't need the reflected version.

    May 21, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. Obama 2.0

    Sounds like a sore winner. There are those also. Very un American. When the POTUS calls you to the White House, then you go.

    May 21, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  22. Obama 2.0

    Not to mention the fact that they were there to put care pkgs together for the troops, Jerk.

    May 21, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    A professional linebacker who is also a pantwetter? Dude's a walking oxymoron.

    May 21, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  24. Eileen

    What a jerk. His loss.

    May 21, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  25. Missy in KY

    Who cares if he goes or not? I don't.

    May 21, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
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