Steelers players comment on Alejandro Villanueva.
Pittsburgh Steelers players, with the exception of one offensive lineman, remained in the tunnel at Soldier Field yesterday afternoon during the national anthem, prior to their game against the Chicago Bears.
Steelers starting left tackle Alejandro Villanueva was the only member of the team to emerge from the tunnel for the anthem, despite a 30-minute team meeting in which the players decided to keep the protest off the field entirely, as a way of keeping solidarity without isolating any one player.
According to ESPN, Villanueva, a former Army Ranger who served terms in Afghanistan, expressed during the meeting that he didn't want to be singled out, but opted to stand outside of the tunnel while the rest of his teammates stayed inside.
After the game, Steelers defensive end Cam Hayward, offensive guard David DeCastro and linebacker James Harrison addressed the situation with the media.
"We thought we were all in attention with the same agreement, obviously," Harrison told PennLive.com. "But I guess we weren't."
Cam Hayward said, "I don't want to go into that, but we support our guy Al. He feels he had to do it. This guy served our country, and we thank him for it."
"Al is a unique circumstance, what he's been through, some of the things he's talked about before," guard David DeCastro said of Villanueva's decision Sunday.
"I've got a lot of respect for Al. I wish there was a different way to do this thing. We've got some people who look at the national anthem as patriotism, soldiers, all the stuff that it means, and obviously, people are upset, and I understand that. I just wish both sides understand that they want the right thing, but doing it through the national anthem, I wish there was a different way."
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin also spoke about Villanueva after the team's 23-17 overtime loss, saying he was looking for “100 percent participation” in whatever method of protest the players decided upon.
When asked by a reporter about Villanueva emerging from the tunnel out for the national anthem, Tomlin said, “Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation, we were gonna be respectful of our football team.”
The Steelers, 2-1, will face the AFC North division rival Ravens in Baltimore in Week 4.