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. James, Phoenix AZ

    Is it just me, or are others out there having a hard time understanding what the heck he is talking about?

    May 21, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. Steve in DC

    This is so stupid. What's Harrison's point? [sarcasm]I'm sure the Prez is going to loose alot of sleep over this.[/sarcasm]

    May 21, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. Paul, CA

    So he doesn't want to go. Neither would I. So lets all us Democrats, and I am one, attach a bunch of senseless stereotypes to those who don't worship every word our self-appointed savior decides to express. Sorry but most of us are waiting for the real Messiah!

    May 21, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. John

    So what if he doesn't want to go, isn't it his choice?

    May 21, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. -A guy who works for a living & a Volunteer EMT!

    This idiot should have accepted BOTH invitations, regardless of the host. As an American, is it not too much to ask to show respect for a society where a guy who can "run fast" makes more $$ than a paramedic or doctor who saves lives every day..... Shut- up and be thankful for our land of opportunity!!!

    May 21, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. David in Houston

    The leader of the free world extends an invite and you decline with nothing short of a ridiculous rationale. You, sir, are a moron.

    May 21, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. old news

    you already reported on this days ago.

    May 21, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. steeltown girl

    It is an honor and a priviledge to be invited to the Whitehouse and meet the President of the United States. James Harrison is ignorant and hopefully he will not be viewed as a role model for anyone.

    May 21, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. Disgusted

    Good, one less person taking up space and air in THE PEOPLE'S White House.

    May 21, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. Royster

    Even though I think Harrison is a is his right to be an idiot and refuse to go in his childlike manner.
    I wonder if they have to beg him to play each NFL game!!....."Hey man, invite me to play a game after we lose!!"...... What a jamoke.

    May 21, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  11. Adam

    You're all acting like Harrison said , "its a free world, I dont want to go."
    When actually he thinks he deserves to be invited when the Super Bowl isnt in the picture. Bottom line, all that should be said is, if you win the Super Bowl you meet the President, there is no downgrade in that. For some reason his ego is bigger then his helmet can fit.

    May 21, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  12. Chris

    Classless is all I can think off.

    Regardless of political affiliation, when one is invited to the meet the President, you go out of respect for the office.

    I was never a W fan, but if he invited me, I would go and be respectful.

    May 21, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  13. usualone

    We have always had celebrities go through the White House. This is not a new thing with President Obama. The Presidents' schedules have always been really tight, so the amount of time they usually spend with celebrities is minute in their busy schedules each day. We need a little levity each day too. So no one should begrudge the moments that make the President smile each day. Most of us would never want that 24-7 each day job.

    May 21, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. val

    And we care why? really I'm sure the President doesn't care and next time invite everyone but him and then you will not have to waste an invitation on wasteful things.

    May 21, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. SayWhat?

    Hahaha Mike... lol! Funny- I was thinking the same thing. Its like the White House is "The Hills" these days!

    May 21, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  16. Fitz in Texas

    Maybe Linebacker James Harrison just has something better to do. Something Obama should think about doing........ like doing a better job running this country.

    May 21, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  17. LuckyLeoNJ

    I wouldn't be surprised if he had "bad blood" with some people that live in the area and wants to avoid a conflict.

    I really think he's just racist. haha!

    May 21, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. AnnMM

    This guy is a putz. As much as I loathed President Bush, had he invited me to the White House, I would have gone and considered it a life achievement.

    May 21, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. Andre

    Steroids makes you say and do stupid things. He doesn't have to go, but his reason makes no sense. Only winners in team sports get the chance to be acknowledged by the President, regardless who is the President at the time. The reason it didn't get any play from the media when Bush was President, who really knew him at that time, this year was a breakout year for this clown.

    May 21, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  20. Disgusted

    He is a product of a student who attended class in "the portables", rode the "short" bus and HAD to play ball cause all else would not work. All that glitters AIN'T gold. He is intimidated by BOOK smart folks. It ain't all about the ball James. Expand and mingle with history.

    May 21, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  21. John in Austin

    Ok – I don't care if he doesn't wanna go. But can I have his invitation? I wanna go! Obama is awesome!!

    May 21, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  22. Calista

    So you don't think this guy deserves a ring just for hard work and being part of the winning team? So Obama has you and many people on this board believing that you don't deserve anything unless you comply with his wishes?

    He really has you people well programed. Wake up and see it.

    May 21, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  23. Kevin in NoDak

    Maybe Harrison should be checked for a concussion.

    10 bucks says the GOP makes him the next "Joe the Plumber"... call him "James the Dumber".

    May 21, 2009 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  24. Vern

    What a idiot on both counts, Bush and Obama!!!! Let's move on!

    May 21, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    Of course he doesn't have to go, but he still makes no sense and sounds like a 3 year old. I might have had trouble not attacking Bush on sight and woul dprobably refused to shake his hand, but I still would've accepted an invitation to meet him.

    May 21, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
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