Steelers Offensive Tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a U.S. Army Veteran, Was the Lone Player on the Field During National Anthem

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin explained on Sunday morning why his team would remain in the locker room during the national anthem in Chicago. He didn’t want his team to be part of a political discussion, or there to be division in the locker room as a result of players protesting or not protesting. But in the end there was one player who took the field, offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva.

Villanueva’s decision surprised the rest of his teammates. One reason the Steelers decided stay off the field during the national anthem was because Villanueva didn’t want to be singled out while he stood.

“We thought we were all in attention with the same agreement, obviously,” linebacker James Harrison told Penn Live. “But I guess we weren’t.”

“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,” Cam Hayward said when asked about it after the game.

During the national anthem, Villanueva’s teammates could be seen behind him in the tunnel, several with their hands over the hearts as well, raising the question of why he was out in front of them.

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SOURCE: SB Nation, James Dator

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