While outraged NFL fans worldwide are calling for boycotts of the league over Veterans Day weekend, football teams across the league have come together to honor veterans in various ways. Some players took a personal touch, such as Pittsburgh Steelers starting left tackle Alejandro Villanueva. The Steelers tackle handed out a hand-picked decal to each teammate for their helmets. Each decal represents an Army infantry division and is paired to the player’s personality.
Other teams opted to speak to veterans via social media, voicing their appreciation via posts or videos. The American Legion and VFW have told Commissioner Roger Goodell they disapprove over player protests involving kneeling, raising a fist, or sitting during the national anthem, but the NFL has continued to allow the actions on the field.
Alejandro Villanueva, a U.S. Army veteran, took heat earlier this year for being more out of the tunnel than his teammates during the national anthem. In another highly criticized move, Villanueva once again displayed his love for veterans by selecting a patch honoring different units and asking his teammates to wear them on their helmets. In a touching gesture, he matched his teammates strengths to each unit’s strengths as well. Multiple divisions will be represented on the field as the Pittsburgh Steelers play on Sunday.
NFL fans have called for boycotts of the league over Veterans Day weekend and a Facebook group encouraging fans to avoid all games over the holiday weekend has attracted over 200,000 fans. Individuals supporting the group are also promising to not purchase any NFL merchandise or digital media in support of the boycott. In response, NFL executives have met with both the Legion and the VFW to reaffirm the league’s commitment to the armed forces. While Commissioner Goodell says he understands the stance of those who disagree, he will not force protesting players to stand.
Even teams who have numerous players participating in various forms of protest have participated in social media dedications for veterans. Individual messages from players, along with simple, yet classy photos have appeared today on social media as tributes to the men and women who have dedicated time to serve in the U.S. military. It appears that in spite of disagreements, team members still appreciate everything veterans have done for the United States.
[Featured Image by Jermaine Cunningham/AP Images]