Steelers Coach Critical of Alejandro Villanueva for Respecting National Anthem

Steelers Coach Critical of Alejandro Villanueva for Respecting National Anthem
Alejandro Villanueva #78 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stands by himself in the tunnel for the national anthem prior to the game against the Chicago Bears on September 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Colin Fredericson

Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin disagreed with Alejandro Villanueva's decision to come out of the tunnel to stand during the national anthem while all the other players and coaching staff were reportedly in the locker room. However, some photos show them just under the tunnel area, some with their hands on their hearts, but mostly out of public view.

Villanueva is a U.S. veteran Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan. After the move, sales of his jersey jumped up to the top spot on and But it turns out Tomlin wasn’t prepared for the move. Tomlin spoke with his players before the game about how their organization would handle the national anthem.
“If many of them felt like something needed to be done, I asked those guys to discuss it, and whatever they discussed, we have 100 percent participation or we do nothing,” said Tomlin in a press conference after the loss to the Bears, via the Steelers Facebook page.

When questioned about Villanueva’s choice to emerge from the tunnel Tomlin said, “Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation. We were going to be respectful of our football team.”

Tomlin viewed the decision not to emerge from the tunnel as indicative of not taking a political stance. He stressed his support of whatever decision the players would make, but he also hinted he was not happy of President Trump’s views towards the NFL on the matter of letting players kneel during the anthem.

Also, Tomlin said the team’s decision and the actions they planned to take regarding being off the field during the anthem was known by the NFL’s highest echelon.

“We didn’t keep secrets. I called the [NFL] commissioner this morning and told him our intentions,” added Tomlin, indicating the wider conflict that includes NFL management and the issue of player protests.

President Trump sent a series of tweets recently on the growing issue of pro football players taking a knee during the anthem, and if that merits disciplinary action.

“The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!” tweeted the president. He also praised the managers of NASCAR teams for statements that agreed protesting the anthem will not be tolerated, Chicago Tribune reported.
Colin is a New York-based reporter. He covers Entertainment, U.S., and international news. Besides writing for online news outlets he has worked in online marketing and advertising, done voiceover work, and has a background in sound engineering and filmmaking. His foreign language skills include Spanish and Chinese.
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