The Single Steelers Player Who Stood For The National Anthem

This past weekend, after President Trump’s controversial remarks on the national anthem protests, his words rippled throughout professional sports.

Many players, owners, and coaches throughout the NFL, the league that President Trump most vocally criticized, had a defiant response.

Every team in the NFL that played on Sunday had players kneeling or sitting for the national anthem. In fact, several teams didn’t even go on the field for the playing of the anthem, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, and Seattle Seahawks. Many players, such as Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady, decided to lock arms with teammates in an attempt to promote team unity.

The Steelers made a team decision to stay in the locker room, but the coaches were on the sideline standing. In response, Steelers’ Head Coach Mike Tomlin said, “(It’s) not to be disrespectful to the anthem, but it’s to remove ourselves from the circumstance. People shouldn’t have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate for the anthem, he shouldn’t have to be forced to choose sides.”

This is what the Steelers’ sideline as the national anthem was being played.

However, one Steelers’ player couldn’t hold back from standing by himself just outside of his team’s tunnel with his hand on his heart for the anthem.

Villanueva is a former Army Ranger, who served in Afghanistan and was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for his service. He is also a graduate of the United States Military Academy.

“I agree that America is not perfect,” said Villanueva in response to Kaepernick’s anthem protests. “I agree that there are a lot of issues with minorities in this country. I agree we should do something about it. But I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down when the national anthem of the country that is providing you freedom and providing you $60 million a year is the best way to do it when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan and protecting our freedom for less than $20,000 a year.”

Other players on the Steelers were reportedly surprised that Villanueva went on the field by himself, due to the fact that they made an agreement as a team.

“We support our guy,” said defensive end Cam Heyward. “He feels he had to do it. This guy served our country, and we thank him for it.”

Linebacker James Harrison, who has been strongly vocal about his opposition to players that kneel for the anthem said, “We thought we were all in attention with the same agreement, but I guess we weren’t.”

As a presumable result of his decision, Villanueva’s jersey became the sixth most best-seller of NFL jersey’s on NFL Shop, which is very rare for an NFL lineman.

President Trump re-tweeted this image on Sunday of someone suggesting a boycott of the NFL, which is by far the most popular sports league in the United States.

Others on Twitter promoted the hashtag “TakeTheKnee”, asking for players to not be afraid to protest.

One user posted a photo of his veteran grandfather, which went viral, kneeling and telling players they have every right to protest.

Essentially, players throughout the league are protesting the national anthem in response to raise awareness about racial injustice throughout the United States. However, many
believe that it is the wrong place to protest and feel like they are especially disrespecting our military.

How do you feel about the situation? Let us know in the comments!

– Peter Amirata

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