President Trump’s remarks regarding the NFL and players kneeling during the national anthem have garnered both praise and outrage. America’s football fans wondered how NFL players might respond, and many (unsurprisingly) decided to take the knee this past weekend.
However, one player could not join his teammates in protests.
Alejandro Villanueva of the Pittsburgh Steelers chose to honor his flag during the opening of his game Sunday evening. Villanueva was the lone Steeler on the field – hand over heart – as the anthem played. The former Army Ranger served three tours in Afghanistan and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor.
The entire Pittsburgh Steelers team stayed in the locker room for national anthem except for Villanueva who served 3 tours in Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/6kvGDls8wQ
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) September 24, 2017
In a rousing show of support, Villanueva’s jersey instantly shot to the top of jersey sales on Sunday evening, as of 10 p.m Eastern time.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin expressed his desire to have all his players remain in the locker room during the anthem. Villanueva was the only one to disobey the directive.
CORRECTION: Coach Mike Tomlin did not take a side in the issue, but simply asked his players to remain together no matter what they decided to do.