his side of the story
Steelers' Alejandro Villanueva says he's 'embarrassed' by anthem mix-up
Pittsburgh Steelers starting left tackle Alejandro Villanueva said Monday he's "embarrassed" when he sees photos showing him standing alone during the national anthem before Sunday's game at Soldier Field.
"This national anthem ordeal has sort of been out of control, and there's a lot of blame on myself," Villanueva said. "I made Coach [Mike] Tomlin look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only. I made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault." Following President Trump's comments on Friday — that "son of a bitch" players taking a knee during the anthem to protest police brutality against blacks should be fired — Tomlin said the Steelers would not take to the field during the anthem as a way to remain unified. "We're not going to let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda," he explained.
Villanueva, a West Point graduate and Army Ranger who deployed to Afghanistan three times, said he had gone out to look at the flag before the game, and when the anthem started, he didn't want to move, and put his hand over his heart. "Unfortunately, I threw [my teammates] under the bus, unintentionally," he said. "Every single time I see that picture of me standing by myself, I feel embarrassed. We as a team tried to figure it out. Obviously, we butchered it. ... I'm not gonna pretend I have some kind of righteous voice."
Villanueva said that he has no problems with players kneeling during the anthem and that many of the same players who take a knee have thanked him for his service. "I will support all my teammates, and all my teammates and all my coaches have always supported me," he said. Likely due to people thinking Villanueva was somehow protesting his team's decision not to come out on the field, his No. 78 jersey has been the top seller on NFLShop.com and Fanatics.com since yesterday, USA Today reports.