Sunday football was more about the protests that far more players partook in this weekend than it was about the game. For every player who took a knee, hid in the locker room, or otherwise intentionally avoided the National Anthem, they feel like they won in a tug-of-war against our president who told them to stand.
One former Army Ranger who now plays for the Steelers knows what the anthem means more than his protesting coach and teammates. He defied coach Mike Tomlin’s demand that the whole team sit out for the anthem and stay inside the locker room to send a point to the country and President Donald Trump.
The whole team followed Tomlin’s disgusting demand except Alejandro Villanueva, a retired Army Ranger who did 3 tours in Afghanistan. He was immediately branded a hero for patriotism on Sunday by people who may not be a Steelers or even NFL fan but immediately became a supporter of Villanueva. The brave offensive lineman busted out of the locker room and onto the field, with his hand over his heart as soon as he heard the anthem start.
He stood alone as the sole patriot of the team and the NFL yesterday. This went directly against his coach’s orders who didn’t seem remotely happy that he stole the attention from his anti-American message he was hoping to send. Villanueva’s incredible show of patriotism far overshadowed anything that Tomlin thought he was going to say that day, and now he’s making the player pay a nasty price for his patriotic action.
According to the Daily Caller, Tomlin didn’t care that the vote to not participate wasn’t unanimous, he was going to force everyone on the team to comply with his opinion on the matter anyway. When the former Army Ranger rightfully didn’t listen, he found out two-fold what happens when you defy a coach who is an angry enough individual to force all of his players into protests, whether they agree with it or not.
Fox News reports:
For Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, being “respectful of our football team” trumped the right of Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva to show respect for the national anthem.
Speaking after his team’s 23-17 loss to the Bears, Tomlin appeared to take a swipe at the Bronze Star recipient’s decision.
“Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation, we were gonna be respectful of our football team,” Tomlin said.
Tomlin told the media that, prior to kickoff Sunday, the Steelers held a team meeting and decided, though not unanimously, to not come out of the locker room for the national anthem. Tomlin added the intent was to have his team focus on the game and not President Trump’s comments blasting players who chose to protest during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
What Tomlin is probably actually upset about is that his statement of sitting in the locker room was overtaken by the completely opposite message Villanueva sent. However, to come out and disrespect the former Army Ranger after he stood for the anthem he once fought to defend, is even more deplorable.
This wasn’t lost on the American people who responded with their wallets. Just as thousands of fans have boycotted the NFL to not pay to support these protests, they are willing to spend money when it’s for the right things, as was shown when Villanueva’s jersey sales skyrocketed overnight, while protesting players’ plummeted.
“Sales of the former Army Ranger’s jersey on Fanatics.com shot up to the highest-seller among Pittsburgh Steelers jersey as of just 10 PM Eastern time,” according to the Daily Caller.
“Additionally, Villanueva’s jersey sales rocketed into the top sellers in the entire league as of 7:45 PM EST behind only Marshawn Lynch, Derek Carr, Carson Wentz, Brown, and Aaron Rodgers, 247 Sports reported.”
This proves that the American people support patriotic players, especially war heroes, more than they do divisive protests. If anyone knows a thing about why we stand for the flag regardless of our misguided feelings, it’s Villanueva, who fought for it, and Senior Airman Brian Kolfage who lost three limbs in war over it. Kolfage came out publicly to defend what Villanueva did while the player’s coach rapped him for it.
“Three tours to Afghanistan and a Bronze Star with Valor,” triple amputee and Purple Heart recipient Kolfage began on Facebook today.
“Villanueva earned his Bronze Star medal with a Valor device for heroism in combat in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, while assigned to 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. After his team was ambushed by the Taliban, Villanueva helped evacuate three wounded soldiers, one of whom, Pfc. Jesse Dietrich, later died from his wounds. Villanueva carried one of the wounded men on his shoulders during the firefight.”
“After everything Villanueva went through in combat it was outright outrageous for coach Tomlin to even suggest he sit the anthem out. And anyone who has been in his situation or in combat knows exactly why. Kaepernick and his minions are chumps.”
If Tomlin wants to talk about showing respect for a team, he could learn a lot about what that really means from these guys who never leave a brother behind.