On Sunday, it seems there was only ONE player on the Pittsburg Steelers team that had the guts to stand during the national anthem. That player was Pittsburg Steelers offensive lineman and former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva. Hard to believe isn’t it?
It seems, after the Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made his ridiculous press conference statement that he was hoping for ‘100% participation’ in the protest, and added,
“We decided we were going to sit it out, we weren’t going to play politics. They decided to stay in the tunnel and not have a demonstration of any kind.”
Well, it seems things backfired!
Not only did Villaneuva stand at the end of the tunnel – ALONE! Even the Steelers QB ‘Big Ben’ Roethlisberger regretted the decision.
But then Villanueva apologized for embarassing the coach and team. Villanueva said he felt like he threw his teammates ‘under the bus’ by NOT standing with them. Crazy, right? Villanueva was an Army Ranger and a decorated one at that!
Villanueva apologized!!!! How insane is THAT!?
“Unfortunately, I threw my teammates under the bus, unintentionally,” he stated in a press conference, and proceeded to explain the miscommunications that resulted in him being the lone member of the Steelers in view while the anthem played.
“I’ve made Coach Tomlin look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only,” he added in his apology. “I made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault, and my fault only. And I’ve made the Steelers also look bad, and that is my fault, and my fault only.”
However, while Villanueva may feel remorseful for making the rest of his organization look bad, a veteran and writer for the Independent Journal Review respectfully begged to differ with the former Ranger and Bronze Star recipient, and insisted that the Steelers made both him and themselves look bad without any additional help.
Virginia Kruta understood where Villanueva was coming from with his apology, but wrote, “Alejandro Villanueva did not make his teammates look bad. They made him look bad.”
Kruta explained how Villanueva’s actions exemplified the core Army Values that are ingrained in every soldier in boot camp, those values being: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage — or, in acronym form, as the military is so very fond of, LDRSHIP.
“He displayed loyalty, duty, and respect — to his country, to the men and women with whom he served, and to flag that stands for everything he signed up to fight for,” she wrote. “Selfless service — by standing when he knew that the popular thing, the thing that would likely earn him praise from the rest of his team, was to sit it out.”
“Honor, integrity, and personal courage — in doing what his heart told him was right even if no one else was willing to stand with him,” added Kruta.
As such, his teammates should have been well aware of his military history and obvious stance in regard to honoring the American flag, the national anthem and the men and women who died defending them.
He should feel no shame or pressure from them or anyone else for standing up and doing the right thing — or, to put it in terms the protesters and their supporters may understand, he was simply expressing his personal beliefs through his right to free speech, as they claim to be doing, even if some find it disagreeable, disrespectful or disruptive to their “unity.”
On Sunday, the Steelers attempted to honor Mr. Villanueva a veteran and NFL player. However, they ‘obviously butchered it’, as Villaneuva claimed.
Ms. Kruta is right. No one should be ashamed of expressing their loyalty to our nation, duty and respect ot our country and the men and women who defend our freedom, and to the flag that stands for everything Villaneuva signed up to fight for.
You can bet, next week when the Pittsburg Steelers take the field in Baltimore, Ben Roethlisberger added, they will stand. Or he will, at least. At least Villaneuva won’t be standing alone.
Of course, no one should ever DISRESPECT our flag, our nation or those who serve our country. If the NFL players want to protest…they should do it on their OWN time, NOT during an NFL game, and NOT at all during the national anthem.
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