(National Sentinel)Â Sports Politics: Pittsburgh Steelers starting offensive linemanÂ Alejandro Villanueva became the best-selling player in the NFL by midday Monday after being the only player on his team to come out of the locker room and stand, with his hand over his heart, for the National Anthem.
Villanueva, who served three combat tours in Afghanistan and was awarded a Bronze Star for valor, broke with his team and his head coach, Mike Tomlin, who had left it up to the team to decide how they wanted to handle criticism of the NFL and players protesting the National Anthem by President Donald J. Trump over the weekend.
According to various reports, the team decided, albeit barely, to remain inside the locker room while the anthem played.
Villanueva, however, had other plans: He wanted to show his respect for the anthem and for the majority of fans whoÂ also support it.
As reports of his decision went viral Monday, sales of his jersey skyrocketed, making him the best-selling player.
After the game, which the Steelers unexpectedly lost to the Chicago Bears, Tomlin was clearly upset by Villanueva’s actions.
“I was looking for 100 percentÂ participation. We were gonna be respectful of our football team,” he said.
“I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down during the national anthem with a country that’s providing you freedom, providing you $16 million a year … when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for less than $20,000 a year,” Villanueva told ESPN last year, when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first started kneeling.
It’s interesting to see owners and coaches twist themselves into knots trying to justify players’ protests over the anthemÂ when the league fines playersÂ every single week for violations of rules that pertain to behavior.
What’s also interesting — and hypocritical — is claiming players ‘have a right’ toÂ disrespect the anthem and Americans who believe in it, but other players who doÂ respect the anthemÂ somehow don’t have a right to show their support.
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