When Israel Idonije visited the White House on Monday for an event to honor service-award winners, he did not get to meet with President Barack Obama.

Idonije swears it was because the president had to rush out and not because Idonije left Obama’s beloved Chicago Bears and signed with the Detroit Lions.

Although Idonije didn’t meet Obama this time, he has rubbed elbows with the leader of the free world on several occasions — none of which has involved football.

“No, we actually never met at any Bears events,” said Idonije, a nine-year veteran at defensive end. “Just supporting him at the inauguration and throughout his campaign I’ve been fortunate to spend some time with the Bidens along with (Obama) and his people that are his support staff and his team and people in my network that are supporting the great things that he is doing.”

“So I’ve been fortunate to be a part of that and be along for the journey. And being in that situation I’ve been fortunate to meet him a handful of times and chat with him, talk football and all that good stuff as well.”

One of the most notable meetings came in October 2010, when Idonije took a group of about 30 students from Chicago’s Alex Haley Academy to the White House.

“The president came out and he gave us a private little speech to our group,” Idonije said. “It was a great experience and for these students and everybody, the students and the chaperones, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a 15-minute basically one-on-one with us and the President in his courtyard. It was outstanding.”