As the firestorm over NFL players deciding to take a knee during the playing of America’s National Anthem continues to swirl, one football player has taken center stage for refusing to submit to peer pressure and deciding to confidently stand as the rest of his team remained in the locker room during the singing of The Star Spangled Banner.
Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan and plays as an offensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was the only player who took to the field on Sunday to stand for the National Anthem. The rest of his team remained in the locker room and tunnel leading to the field, preferring to remove themselves from the decision to stand, kneel or lock arms as the National Anthem played.
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
Fans were quick to take notice of Villanueva’s courage to stand alone in respecting the American flag, praising the offensive tackle for honoring what America stands for rather than mocking it.
Alejandro Villanueva, you are the epitome of an American Veteran with a heart full of personal courage. We salute you brother! 🇺🇸
— Ryder Keedwell (@Radarrr11) September 24, 2017
Thanks for your service and what an incredible person you are to do what you did today! #ProudAmerican
— Michael Moss (@MRMoss64) September 25, 2017
Villanueva a great man, on and off the field! Thank you for your service. I wish I were half the man you are.
— Ronald Ward (@dudeward) September 25, 2017
God Bless You! #Villanueva for being a true American Patriot and not some over priced athlete.
— Don Bolton (@fwmustang) September 25, 2017
Thank you for standing up for our country and serving it. Your coach should be fired for politicizing patriotism.
— My Toyota Guy (@MyToyotaGuy) September 25, 2017
NFL fans were so impressed with Villanueva’s display that sales of his jersey skyrocketed after pictures of him standing for the National Anthem, while his team remained absent from the field, circulated online.
Alejandro Villanueva jersey sales are skyrocketing after he was the lone member of the Pittsburgh Steelers to stand for the national anthem before Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.
On Fanatics.com Villanueva’s jersey is now the top selling Steelers jersey, and one of the top selling jerseys in the entire NFL.
The rest of the Steelers remained in the locker room and tunnel behind Villanueva during the national anthem.
NFL fans were moved by Villanueva’s decision to emerge from the tunnel and stand for the anthem with his hand over his heart.
However, not everyone was pleased with Villanueva’s display of patriotism, as Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin took a swipe at the Army Ranger veteran today, stating that he “was looking for 100 percent participation”.
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.
“Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation, we were gonna be respectful of our football team,” Tomlin said when asked about Villanueva ignoring the order and coming out for the 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.”
“Many of them felt like something needed to be done. I asked those guys to discuss it and whatever they discussed that we have 100 percent participation or we do nothing,” Tomlin said after the game. “They discussed it for an appropriate length of time and they couldn’t come to an understanding, so they chose to remove themselves from it. They were not going to be disrespectful in the anthem so they chose not to participate, but at the same time many of them were not going to accept the words of the president.”
Villanueva has previously criticized Colin Kaepernick, who last year started the trend of kneeling for the National Anthem in protest of “racial injustice”.
“I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down during the national anthem with a country that’s providing you freedom, providing you $16 million a year … when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for less than $20,000 a year,” Alejandro Villanueva said of the National Anthem protests
As expected, many football fans have hard time sympathizing with players who make millions of dollars a year complaining about America.
While leftists and anti-Trump critics may be celebrating the politicizing of “America’s pastime”, the NFL has enjoyed success for so long it appears they have failed to recognize that the majority of their target audience is not composed of hardcore liberals, as they are typically the first to criticize the sport for being too violent. Rather, football games are often associated with a sense of patriotism, American values and unity in the sense that fans of all political beliefs can come together and enjoy a game without having to think about politics for a day.
As with every organization that liberals manage to hijack, the primary concern is no longer to entertain or satisfy their customer base, but rather to portray a political message at every chance they get.
I can’t help but wonder, are the NFL owners aware that nearly half of America’s voting base supported Donald Trump in last year’s election? That’s over 60 million voters and potential NFL fans who are now forced to be exposed to liberal politics rather than entertainment and fun when watching a football game. These fans are much more likely to side with President Trump over liberal displays of disrespect for America, and the NFL’s poor ratings will continue to illustrate this point in a much stronger fashion than words can for these teams and their owners.