As the topic of players kneeling during the National Anthem rages on, one player, a former Army Ranger, sent a clear message on where he stands on the subject. Offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva was the lone player on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ team to come out of the locker room and stand for the anthem.
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Early Sunday morning, Steelers’ executives made the decision that the team would not come out of the locker room until after the National Anthem. The move was met with many questions. Are we taking this too far? Did President Trump’s remarks make this a larger issue? Will the Steelers’ organization be punished for their decision?
All of these questions will surely be answered sooner or later, but one thing is clear for fans around the league —Villanueva will stand for the National Anthem. How could he not as a previous military member who wants to honor his brothers who gave their lives for this country?
As the National Anthem began to ring throughout the stadium, the Steelers’ sideline was empty. Their opponent, the Chicago Bears, were seen with their arms locked, standing in solidarity.
The camera panned over to former Ranger Villanueva, who is seen holding his helmet to his side with his hand over his heart near entrance to the team’s tunnel.
According to the Daily Caller, Villanueva played his collegiate career at West Point Military Academy before he became part of the elite Army Rangers.
This touching moment of patriotism did not go unnoticed on Twitter.
While many enjoyed seeing a player respect the flag and all it stands for, some Twitter users questioned if this will begin to divide players on the team.
The increase of players kneeling during the anthem started after President Trump criticized the NFL and its owners for how they have handled the situation. Numerous teams have reported players from all around the league will be sitting during the anthem to defy the president’s stance on the issue.
Alejandro Villanueva was the only Steeler to come out for the National Anthem, standing in the tunnel. pic.twitter.com/L4EtxRQSvA
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 24, 2017