The Pittsburgh Steelers opted to stand for the national anthem on Sunday, Oct. 1, in a Baltimore against the Ravens.
Last week, the Steelers stoked controversy by staying in the stadium tunnel as the anthem played. The lone player to stand outside the tunnel, hand over heart, was offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stands next to head coach Mike Tomlin during the National Anthem before taking on the Ravens Sunday pic.twitter.com/uXwDIY6P55
— Matt Freed (@mattfreedpghpg) October 1, 2017
Ravens players also stood for the anthem. But before the anthem, the players took a knee—taking a cue from Dallas Cowboys players and executives during last week’s “Monday Night Fooball” game. In the Ravens’ last game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, numerous Baltimore players kneeled.
Ravens fans cheered as announcer said team endorses kindness, unity, equality & justice then immediately boo when team kneels before anthem pic.twitter.com/GyIHKOsWLB
— Jessie ?? (@JMKTV) October 1, 2017
The move to not appear on the sideline, as usual, for the anthem drew significant controversy, even though Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said they were doing it to not get involved in politics.
Tomlin told the media last week that the players “are not interested in making statements” and won’t be “goaded into a demonstration,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
— Ryan Recker (@RyanRecker) October 1, 2017
Tomlin added, “We decided we were going to sit it out, we weren’t going to play politics. They decided to stay in the tunnel and not have a demonstration of any kind.”
In a statement, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger stated that he was “unable to sleep” over last week’s anthem move.
The protests started last season when ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the anthem, saying he was protesting “police brutality” and “racial injustice.” He initially sat out on the bench, drawing widespread condemnation, and then changed the form of his protest to taking a knee during the anthem. Kaepernick currently doesn’t play for an NFL team, but a number of players have followed suit to sit or kneel during the anthem.
Last week, at least 200 NFL players took a knee or engaged in another form of protest during the anthem after President Donald Trump said that players who don’t stand should be fired. Trump also said the recent drop in TV ratings is a result of the protests.