Alabama football players view White House visit as ‘a great honor’


Matthew Speakman

There wasn’t much discussion about whether or not Alabama football would visit the White House after winning its 17th national championship. It’s a tradition that comes with winning a championship in any major sport.

Alabama coach Nick Saban let his players know that they would not be skipping the celebration. He told his players in a team meeting that they would be attending.

“Coach Saban addressed it and just said, ‘Hey, we’re doing this regardless of your political thoughts,'” offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher said. “‘We’re going, just to celebrate this team. It’s an honor. And just to be able to say that you’ve gone to the White House is something that you can cherish forever.’ So that was basically the extent of that.”

Members of recent champions like the Golden State Warriors and the Philadelphia Eagles decided to skip out on the visit because of the actions of the current president, Donald Trump.

The Warriors skipped the visit after Trump rescinded their offer when some players on the team said they did not want to take the trip after winning the 2017 NBA Finals.

Alabama is not following in the footsteps of those professional teams.

Alabama is currently scheduled to visit the White House at 2 p.m. CT. It will be the first visit for the Crimson Tide since Trump took office last January. 

“As a team we decided to go,” running back Damien Harris said. “We consider this a great honor and a great accomplishment, and we’re thankful for the opportunity to be able to visit the White House again.”

It will Alabama’s fifth visit since 2009. The Crimson Tide visited the White House four times when Barack Obama was in office.

Linebacker Terrell Lewis, who grew up 25 minutes from the White House, said no one on the team was really opposed to going this year even though other teams have skipped out.

“A lot of guys weren’t tripping off on that situation of going to the White House, but my personal preference was that I wanted to go because I’ve been in that city for a long time and never been to the White House,” Lewis said. “It is definitely an honor and we have to think of it as we’re not going for whatever the political problems are or the President. It’s mainly for the honor of being at the White House.”

Lewis will be unable to attend due to a funeral for a member of his family, but the visit will mark the second time in the last three years Alabama has been to the White house.

Still, despite Trump’s politics, players are excited about the visit whether they agree with him. For Harris, who visited the White House two years ago, he is honored to return.

“It’s something that comes with being national champions, so we’re definitely thankful for the opportunity,” Harris said. “There’s a lot of young guys that haven’t been able to make that trip yet. We’re glad we’ve got guys that can go for the first time and experience it the way that we did when we were young. Obviously all the older guys have been there, and we’re looking forward to going back again.”