When I heard that Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker James Harrison was taking a pass on the team's scheduled trip to the White House this week, I figured there was a good reason. A wedding, maybe. Perhaps somebody's graduation. Or even a really good excuse, like he was washing his hair.
But the truth is, Harrison's absence from the visit is, well, a little hard to explain. Let me let him do so, in his own muddled way of thinking:
"If you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl," he told Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV. "So as far as I'm concerned he would have invited Arizona if they had won."
No fooling, Sherlock. That's how it works.
At least Harrison is consistent. He also blew off the victory lap in 2006, when the Steelers last won the Super Bowl (and a different President was living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue).
Look, an argument can be made that these White House celebrations of sports victories are silly. They're a pretty obvious excuse for the President to wrap himself in the glow of success. And they're not equal-opportunity: when was the last time the NCAA Division II softball champs got the treatment?
But as someone who got to make this trip once (in 1993, while covering the Dallas Cowboys), I have to tell you: only a complete idiot would pass up the chance without a compelling reason. You get a behind-the-scenes look at the center of power in our nation. And you get some unscripted time with The Leader Of The Free World (in '93, that was Bill Clinton, who played havoc with that day's White House schedule by schmoozing the team in the East Room for about 2 hours).
Obviously, James Harrison's world view isn't broad enough to get all that. Fine. His loss.