On Sunday, Steelers offensive tackle, Alejandro Villanueva, bucked Coach Tomlin’s orders to stay in the tunnel during the National Anthem. Villanueva came out onto the field, placed his hand over his heart, and sang the words to the “Star-Spangled Banner”. And, it was beautiful.
A U.S. Army Ranger (also a Bronze Star recipient) who served three tours in Afghanistan, Villanueva understands the price paid for our freedom, including our freedom to protest. So, of course, he was cheered by millions of Americans across the country for taking a patriotic stand in the midst of the recent NFL controversy (of players kneeling during the National Anthem).
However, Coach Tomlin did not take too kindly to Villanueva’s actions.
Speaking after his team’s 23-17 loss to the Bears, Tomlin appeared to take a swipe at the Bronze Star recipient’s decision.
“Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation, we were gonna be respectful of our football team.”
Tomlin told the media that, prior to kickoff Sunday, the Steelers held a team meeting and decided, though not unanimously, to not come out of the locker room for the national anthem. Tomlin added the intent was to have his team focus on the game and not President Trump’s comments blasting players who chose to protest during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Read more here.
This writer has grown up in the Pittsburgh area and has been a Steelers fan most of her life. While she is no longer a fan (as of Sunday), she does commend Villanueva for his courage and patriotism!