PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison can’t believe there’s so much fuss being made about him skipping the Super Bowl champions’ White House visit with President Barack Obama on Thursday.
Harrison will bypass the traditional ceremony, just as he did when the Steelers were honored by President George W. Bush at the White House in June 2006.
“Why is it a big issue now that I’m not going if it wasn’t a big issue the last time?” Harrison said Tuesday after an off-season practice.
Harrison was a backup when the Steelers won the Super Bowl during the 2005 season, but was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season. His 100-yard interception return during Pittsburgh’s 27-23 victory over Arizona is the longest scoring play in Super Bowl history.
“Hey, James ain’t changed,” said Harrison, whose longtime fear of flying may have played a role in his decision not to accompany his teammates to Washington. “I guess my profile did but I didn’t change. I’m not going because I don’t want to go.”
Harrison also said, but not seriously, that the White House isn’t in one of Washington’s safer areas.
“It’s not a good neighborhood over there,” he said. “It’s a bad neighborhood.”