Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva made headlines recently for being the only player in his team to stand during the anthem.
To recap, all of the Steelers players chose to stay inside the tunnel to protest during the national anthem. But Villanueva was the only player to stand outside the tunnel, holding his hand over his heart and singing along.
Fans of the NFL team were divided in their reactions to the team’s stance.
In the aftermath of the controversy, Villanueva’s jersey became the top selling Jersey, ESPN reported. The increase in sales could mean that fans supported Villanueva’s respect of the flag.
Now in the latest update, Villanueva is donating all the proceeds of his jersey sales to non-profits that benefit the military, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, a sportswriter and TV analyst for the network.
“Steelers’ Alejandro Villanueva is donating all proceeds on his jersey/apparel sales to USO and other military non-profits, as he always has,” Schefter tweeted on Tuesday, Sept. 26.
Steelers’ Alejandro Villanueva is donating all proceeds on his jersey/apparel sales to USO and other military non-profits, as he always has.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 27, 2017
The USO or United Service Organizations Inc is a nonprofit that provides live entertainment to members of the United States Armed Forces and their families.
According to CBS, Villanueva has always donated his jersey proceeds in the past.
However, recently Villanueva said he regretted his decision to separate himself from his team.
“This national anthem ordeal has been out of control, and there’s a lot of blame on myself,” Villanueva said Monday, Sept. 25, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Villanueva is a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan.
Villanueva said there was a botched plan. Three Steelers captains, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, were to stand behind him right outside the tunnel.
But a lack of time and bad planning prevented that from happening, he said.
“We butchered our plan to sort of have a response for the national anthem in respect to everyone’s opinions,” Villanueva said.
He said that he “threw (his teammates) under the bus, unintentionally” by standing for the national anthem, alone.
“Because of that, I’ve made coach (Mike) Tomlin look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only,” Villanueva added. “I’ve made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only. And I’ve made the Steelers also look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only.”
Some 200 NFL players around the league protested during the national anthem. Most took a knee but some merely sat and others raised a fist, reminiscent of the Black Power symbol.