Yesterday was quite a day for the NFL with fans booing teams whose players took a knee during the national anthem. Many people showed up for the games disguised as empty seats. But there was one ray of sunshine and that was at the Pittsburgh game. Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva bucked the coach who decided to keep his entire team off the field during the playing of the anthem.
Villanueva is a war hero and an Army Ranger. His story went viral and his new found fans made a mad dash to the NFL store and began buying his jersey in large numbers. In fact, his uniform is now the fifth hottest in football behind only Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, Raiders quarterback Derrick Carr, and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
Prior to their matchup against the Chicago Bears, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin announced that his entire team would remain in the locker room during the national anthem so that his team remained unified.
According to CBS Sports, Tomlin said before the game:
You know, these are very divisive times for our country and for us as a football team it’s about us remaining solid. We’re not going to be divided by anything said by anyone. … “[I told our players] if you feel the need to do anything I’m going to be supportive of that — as Americans you have that right. But whatever we do we’re going to do 100 percent, we’re going to do together. We’re not going to let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda.
However, in his post-game press conference, Tomlin indicated he was disappointed that Villanueva broke ranks from his teammates, saying he was “looking for 100 percent participation” for whatever the team chose to do.