As hundreds of pro-footballers planned to kneel during the national anthem — some continuing the protest sparked last season by former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick and some responding to comments made on Friday by President Donald Trump about those protests — the Pittsburgh Steelers upped the ante by saying that their team would not even be taking the field until the anthem was over.
And when the “Star-Spangled Banner” played, only the Chicago Bears stood — yes, stood, arm in arm — on the sidelines:
— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) September 24, 2017
But the other side of the field wasn't exactly empty. While it is true that the majority of the team remained in the locker room until the game began, there were a few exceptions.
Members of the coaching staff did take the field for the national anthem:
— Ben Krimmel (@BenKrimmel) September 24, 2017
And Veteran Army Ranger and West Point graduate Alejandro Villanueva (No. 78) may have stayed near the tunnel, but he stood there proudly with his hand over his heart, respecting the flag he volunteered to fight for:
The Steelers were not on the sidelines during the national anthem. LT Alejandro Villanueva, who served in the Army, stood by the tunnel pic.twitter.com/teTCoJ3vFx
— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterTes) September 24, 2017
— John Beadling (@jbeadling3) September 24, 2017
And boy, did people notice:
— ANDRE TRIPLETT (@ATRIPLETT20) September 24, 2017
Lots of 78 jerseys will be sold this week #Steelers
— TJLS on ESPN 1120 (@JoeLodanosky) September 24, 2017
Thank you, Alejandro Villanueva#Steelers
— 🏈Blake Raab🐧🏒 (@N4BWR) September 24, 2017
— Cory Berchick (@c_berchick11) September 24, 2017
I will be buying a Villanueva #Steelers jersey tomorrow
— Chris Morgan (@mrpoge) September 24, 2017
— Peter Lawrence (@_PeteLaw) September 24, 2017
— B1$0N (@_B1S0N) September 24, 2017
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.