At Chicago’s Soldier Field, appropriately enough, Pittsburgh Steeler head coach Mike Tomlin ordered his team to remain in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem. One player, and only one, defied his coach’s order.
Alejandro Villanueva, a Pittsburgh Steeler offensive lineman, West Point graduate, and U.S. Army Ranger veteran who deployed three times to Afghanistan, was the only Steeler to defy Coach Tomlin and leave the Steeler’s locker room, going onto the field to show his respect for our flag, for our country, for those who have served, and for those serving today to ensure our freedom to enjoy what is starting to look like a silly game.
As the national anthem was ending, the Steeler players ran onto the field from the tunnel to a tremendous chorus of boos.
Coach Tomlin said he decided to keep his team in the locker room to avoid controversy. Oops! I think you just walked into a hailstorm of controversy, Coach.
From CBS Sports
After Donald Trump’s controversial comments on Friday that called for NFL owners to cut any player who protested during the national anthem, most teams responded on Sunday by having a show of unity while the anthem was played.
However, that’s not what the Steelers did. Instead, before the team’s game in Chicago, coach Mike Tomlin decided that the Steelers would remain in their locker room while the national anthem was sang.
“You know, these are very divisive times for our country and for us as a football team it’s about us remaining solid,” Tomlin said before the game. “We’re not going to be divided by anything said by anyone. … We’re not going to let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda.”
Despite Tomlin’s order, one Steelers player did make out on to the field for the national anthem, and that player was Alejandro Villanueva. While the anthem was played, Villanueva stood just outside the player’s tunnel at Soldier Field.
Alejandro Villanueva was the only Steeler to come out for the National Anthem, standing in the tunnel. pic.twitter.com/L4EtxRQSvA
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 24, 2017
As for the rest of the team, they all remained in the locker room during the anthem with the exception of Tomlin, who stood on the sideline by himself.
Mike Tomlin. No players behind him. pic.twitter.com/GYR0M4EyvR
— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) September 24, 2017
Villanueva is a former Army Ranger, so he probably made it pretty clear to Tomlin that he was going to stand on the field for the anthem, no matter what.