It also followed US President Donald Trump's outspoken declaration that any protesting player should be sacked by their National Football League team. Following the game, linebacker James Harrison was one over several Steelers players who got a little confused about why Villanueva didn't stand with them.
Apparently, that was not the plan - even as many people assumed, for Villanueva.
Villanueva, an Army veteran who served three tours in Afghanistan and earned two bronze stars, stood alone with his hand on his heart and sang along as "The Star-Spangled Banner" was played in Chicago. The 29-year-old is in his fourth season with the Steelers.
Let me see if I've got this straight: Tomlin - a Clinton donor and fundraiser - is upset that Villanueva was not "respectful of our football team" because he made a decision to honor the country for which he's courageously risked his life by not snubbing the national anthem?
According to Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday, Steelers guard Ramon Foster said Villanueva had "special clearance" to come out of the tunnel for the anthem while his teammates waited in the tunnel. "When everyone sees images of me standing by myself, everybody thinks the team and the Steelers are not behind me and that is absolutely wrong".
Lone Steelers lineman who attended national anthem now has best selling jersey
On Monday, Villanueva's No. 78 jersey was outselling big names like Marshawn Lynch and Aaron Rodgers on the NFL Shop. Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva ) was disrespectful to our country and it was inexcusable behavior.
"So rather than have some guys kneel and some guys stand, the conclusion was made kind of by everybody that the best thing to do was just to stay in the locker room or in the tunnel if you will".
Villanueva said he spoke to Roethlisberger on Saturday about leading the Steelers onto the field alongside the team captains and that the quarterback agreed to it.
"I want to make it very clear that we support our troops, we support the people that defend this country, that have lost their lives, that are still now supporting this country", Roethlisberger said. I've made my teammates look bad and that is my fault and my fault only and I've made the Steelers also look bad and that is my fault and my fault only. "Al thought we were standing there".
The truth behind his unintentional solo stand, didn't stop his Pittsburgh jumper becoming the most popular National Football League jersey sold through the National Football League network. "So essentially what we can get out of this is that we butchered our plan to sort of have a response for the national anthem and respect everyone's opinion". "There was no division there.It was just the way it appeared through pictures".
Roethlisberger issued a statement on his personal website Monday saying he regretted the team's decision to miss the anthem. "But, I guess we weren't".
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