Alejandro Villanueva was one Pittsburgh Steelers player who did not remain in the locker room during the national anthem. As seen in the above photo, Villanueva chose to stand for the national anthem and place his hand on his heart as many of the Pittsburgh Steelers remained in the locker room.
Alejandro chose to exit the locker room in Chicago on Sunday, September 24 after President Trump was critical of NFL players who knelt during the anthem. Many other photos show the Steelers’ sideline as an empty location when the national anthem was played, reports CBS Sports.
The below video from the publication notes that Villanueva was the only player to exit the tunnel at Soldier Field in Chicago. Alejandro is a left tackle for the Steelers, and Villanueva’s military background likely had a lot do to with his choice to participate. Alejandro was an Army Ranger who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan, according to the Washington Post.
Prior to the game, Mike Tomlin, the head coach of the Steelers, announced that the entire Steelers team would stay in the locker room during the anthem and not participate. Mike explained that it wasn’t a sign of disrespect to the anthem, but an attempt to remove the Steelers from the controversy over the song. Tomlin also noted that if anyone wanted to participate in the anthem, he shouldn’t have to choose sides.
Although Tomlin said the Steelers would be 100 percent with their decision not to participate in the anthem, apparently Alejandro made his decision to participate. Villanueva can be seen in photos and videos as the solo Steelers player who stood and placed his gloved hand on his heart for the national anthem.
The backlash that Trump has been met with since calling out NFL owners for not firing players who kneel for the national anthem has been swift. In Alabama on Friday, Trump asked the crowd if they would love to see an NFL owner saying “Get that son of a b**** off the field right now” to any player who “disrespects” the flag by kneeling in protest of racism and police brutality. Now that Alejandro was the sole Pittsburgh Steelers player to exit the tunnel and stand for the national anthem prior to a game against the Chicago Bears, Villanueva (No. 78) is trending online.
[Featured Image by Nam Y. Huh/AP Images]