Why James Harrison Said No to the White House

Josh WetmoreCorrespondent IMay 19, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks on the field against the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Steelers won 27-23.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

For the second time in his career, James Harrison and the Pittsburgh Steelers were invited to the White House after winning the Super Bowl.

For the second time in his career, James Harrison has declined that invitation.

Harrison’s logic, or lack there of, behind his choice to miss an apparent twice in a lifetime opportunity, lies somewhere hidden in this quote told to WTAE-TV: "If you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl. So as far as I'm concerned he would have invited Arizona if they had won."

Now I know, trust me, I know, that what the reigning Defensive MVP just said makes absolutely, positively, no sense and it kind of makes you wonder what goes on behind the ever present blank stare. But it isn’t what you think.

Its not that he’s about two IQ points shy of Forest Gump, and its not that he’s a disrespectful thug, a la Maurice Claret, or the entire Cincinnati Bengal’s roster. It’s just that he has the single most one-track mind of any person in the NFL.

If it’s not about football, Harrison just doesn’t understand it, and quite frankly doesn’t care to understand it. 

Harrison just doesn’t “feel like it's that big a deal,” probably because the White House visit involved hand shakes and small talk, rather than bench presses and film study. Plain and simple, his priorities go as followed:

  1. Playing football
  2. Practicing football
  3. Studying football
  4. Talking football
  5. Eating (probably to gain weight for football)
  6. Apparently truck driving (see this article from ESPN)
  7. Hating drunk Cleveland fans

Politics and government rank at about priority number 532. It would be sort of like if Charles Dobson was invited to dinner with Miley Cyrus. Its not that the gesture isn’t appreciated, it just doesn’t really matter.

It is true that, although this explains why he doesn't care, it doesn’t initially explain the stupefying nature of his explanation. But really it’s just off his radar. He’s so focused on football he can’t even think logically about anything else.

Take his Super Bowl media day interview with Deon Sanders. Harrison totally hung Sanders out to dry on this one. He quite frankly doesn’t even seem to understand the fact that Sanders is trying to make jokes.

The only thing on his mind is football and if the question is not a serious football question he can’t give a good answer.

This doesn’t mean he’s dumb. Sure, he isn’t exactly a renaissance man, but when Sanders, or other media members, actually ask him about what he’s paid to do, he's much better.

In fact, during the interview with Sanders, Big James predicted the biggest play of his career. Saying that he would be in coverage more and that he was hoping for an interception returned for a touchdown.  

The NFL loves its big players to have big personalities and while James Harrison plays big, hits big, and is big, he doesn’t have the big personality. Actually, he doesn’t really seem to have a personality, but don’t confuse a lack of personality with a lack of respect or a lack of mental function.

Harrison does his job and does it better than anyone else. He just doesn’t do anything else. 


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