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. tammy

    Its fine, who really cares if he shows or not.
    I love Obama but I wouldnt want to go to white house

    May 21, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. A-Wax

    nice logic there, Spock

    way to go

    May 21, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |

    oh, wow ! really sounds kinda goofy . give a good answer the next time you are invited somewhere dude! steeler's fans i won't hold this one against you guys, but is this guy really that silly in the locker room?

    May 21, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  4. Coleman R. Brice

    Why is this news?

    May 21, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  5. Same Old White House

    Who cares. Anyone who calls him a moron for not going is a self absorbed moron themselves. I wouldnt go either.

    May 21, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  6. Pragmatic

    A true example of bipartisanship: he ignored both President Bush and President Obama ...

    May 21, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. james

    Of course if Arizona won they would have been
    invited to the White House!!!

    That's part of what the winners get....

    Wonder how he memorizes a playbook with such a basic knowledge of how the world works???

    May 21, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  8. Rikki

    Although I appreciate his consistency, his argument is mute. An invite to the White House is one of several perks for being national champs...just like the money...the trophy...the ring...and the bragging rights. Losers don't get those things. Futhermore, Obama openly rooted for the Steelers so it's not like he's a fair weather fan.

    May 21, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  9. Chad, Wisco

    Chris Jacke didnt go to the White House when the Pack won the SuperBowl in '96, where is the story about that???

    May 21, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. melvinowens

    note to harrison: i don' t think obama particualrly wanted to see the steelers be cause he is a chicago bears fan.[ the visit is just a tradition.

    May 21, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. Bo

    No one care....harrison is a thug anyways. Obama is the man

    May 21, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. Jon

    No matter how hard I try, no matter how closely I concentrate, I just can't get myself to care what James Harrison does with his free time.

    May 21, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  13. Char

    Robin's Comment

    Wow, what's with all these celebrities parading through the White House?

    Did we elect a president or a movie star?

    Well Robin, Ronald Reagan was elected as President and he WAS a movie star! You betcha!

    May 21, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  14. Art Rooney

    How dare he say no to Obama. I thought that was actually a law or amendment to the constitution now that you could not disagree or disappoint the chosen one.

    CNN...try freedom of speech once and a while and post something that isn't just fawning over obama's emperor's new clothes.

    May 21, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  15. Scott the Independent

    Actually I wonder how he would feel had he never won a super bowl – strange how ego warps the mind

    May 21, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. Patty

    Hey Harrison.......It's not about you ....OK

    May 21, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  17. To Scott H

    @Scott H-
    I believe its been said several times over that the media failed to make it a big enough deal when Bush was turned down. Back then, it was never posted on the ticker to allow folks to then comment. But nice way to bring "move-on" and libruls into this. Limbaugh must be done for the day otherwise we wouldn't have been blessed with your comments.

    May 21, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  18. Phil

    Good for him. He is right. No one made a big deal before, so why make a big deal now.

    May 21, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. Mike

    What has Obama done during his first presidential term besides meet with celebrities and propose flawed regulation. His inauguration was like a rerun of Star Search. I'm sure glad Obama is meeting with the Steelers instead of helping to resolve our country's current economic predicament. Nice choice democrats!

    May 21, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  20. Kimberly

    What an idiot! I hate when sports FIGURES get these ignorant heads. He should be ashamed of himslf, andkids should NOT look up to this moron. Even when he didnt go when bush was there. He acts like he should have gotten an invite for just being him??? Whatever, he just lost ALL respect as far I am concerned. loser!

    May 21, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  21. joe

    The president needs to start working and get the economy on track instead of this nonsense meeting.

    May 21, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  22. Saad

    What an idiot..... stupid ignorant dumb idiot.... hope his career gets over next year from an injury... idiot.

    May 21, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  23. Adam

    If it were me, Id see a trip to the White House an additional perk along side that beautiful Lombardi Trophy. Not to mention, if I were black, I would love to meet the FIRST black President face-to-face.

    May 21, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  24. JAX

    What an ego! You should be honored to be invited to the White House.

    May 21, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. dina levine

    Good for James Harrison, he has a right not to go if he doesn't want to. I don't remember hearing about it when he didn't go to the White House for President Bush.

    May 21, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
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