Alabama football will make another trip to the White House on Tuesday to celebrate its 2017 national championship. The Crimson Tide will fly to Washington, D.C. during a day off from spring practice.
“It’s an incredible honor for us to be invited to the White House,” running back Damien Harris said. “It’s something that comes with being national champions, so we’re definitely thankful for the opportunity. 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.”
It’s the second trip to the White House for Harris, who was also a member of Alabama’s 2015 national championship team as a freshman. This will be Alabama’s fifth trip to the White House with coach Nick Saban after winning the national championship in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015 previously.
This will be the first time President Donald Trump has hosted the Crimson Tide at the White House; all four previous championships came during Barack Obama’s presidency. Trump attended the first half of the national championship game against Georgia.
The Golden State Warriors did not visit the White House after winning the 2016-17 NBA championship. Offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher said Saban spoke with the team about the visit to explain why they would be making the trip.
“Coach Saban addressed it and just said, ‘Hey, we’re doing this regardless of your political thoughts,” 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.”
Junior linebacker Terrell Lewis grew up about 20 minutes from the White House in Washington, D.C. and looked forward to the trip. But he said he won’t be able to make it while he attends a funeral for his grandmother.
“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,” he 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.”
Pierschbacher said he enjoyed his first trip to the White House. He kept the photograph of the team lined up behind Obama and Saban from the trip in 2016. He’ll get the chance for another one on Tuesday.
“It’s a big honor,” Pierschbacher said. “Just to be able to celebrate another championship. I know the team is excited. Just get a day away from Tuscaloosa and go to Washington D.C., which a lot of guys have never been. So it’s something that a lot of people can say that they’ve done. I’m just looking forward to it.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.