James Harrison Down and Out For White House Visit

Wayne BakerContributor IMay 20, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is checked out after scoring a touchdown on an 100 yard interception return in the second quarter against the Arizona Cardinals looks on during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Okay, you are 10 years old, playing with the football by yourself in the backyard.  You put the ball in the air, dive ungraciously through your mother's flowers, and then wind up with the ball safely tucked in your hands.  Then, you scream, "Touchdown, we win the Super Bowl!"

Your eyes turn skyward with thoughts of a MVP dance in your head.  The team has hoisted you on their shoulders, you are going to Disneyland and the big hybrid vehicle is yours to drive away  (let's think green folks).  Now comes the rub. Most kids know the trip to the White House comes with the big win. It is not a faux pas to fantasize about shaking hands with the President of the United States.

Well, here comes Pittsburgh’s James Harrison.  All grown up and a Super Bowl champion.  Not once, but twice mind you, and he appears to have the dream almost down pat.  Harrison can celebrate with the best of them.  He makes plays that are incredible and the crowd screams.  He’s got it all down pat, except for one tiny detail.  The man refuses to make a trip to the White House to meet the most powerful man on the planet.

His agent claims that Harrison is not playing politics this time.  When the Steelers won the big game in 2006, Harrison refused to meet with President Bush, claiming it had nothing to do with politics.

Now he won't go to see President Obama, stating that if the Steelers lost the game, they would not have been invited.  DUH!  What Harrison fails to realize is that there is a bigger picture he is excluding himself from.  Athletes, such as Harrison, often realize that their profession is a stepping stone to making a fortune and then setting themselves up to have a productive life after their days of glory are over.

The great Jim Brown walked away from the game after eight seasons because he wanted to do more with his life.  Getting to meet the President is an honor and a privilege no matter who is in office, and refusing to be a part of such an occasion for a reason that makes Michael Vick's dog fighting days look brilliant, is utterly stupid.

Harrison is a great player that is making a terrible decision.  I dread the day when some kid makes the catch in his or her backyard and dreams of all the wonderful things that go with it, but excludes the White House visit.  He or she will likely be a Harrison fan and will have reasoned that the White House visit is useless, so why dream it.

On the other hand, maybe they will include it and will rationalize that the man they idolize as a player, just made a stupid decision.