Steelers player who stood for national anthem has top-selling jersey

Cowboys Cardinals Football

It's the top seller in the league after the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle broke with his team and walked out of the tunnel for the national anthem.

"We were gonna be respectful of our football team", he explained.

"I was looking for 100 percent participation".

Despite the opposition, President Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon his appreciation for some of the support the US flag and National Anthem received, saying "kneeling is not acceptable" and ripping the struggling NFL for its "bad ratings".

The entire Steelers active playing roster - except for Villanueva - remained in the tunnel underneath Soldier Field in Chicago as the American national anthem was played before their game against the Bears, in a display created to show a unified front within the Steelers organisation.

Villanueva also said that he would "absolutely" be alright with his teammates kneeling or sitting during the anthem.

"Unfortunately, I threw (my teammates) under the bus, unintentionally", Villanueva said.

"I just couldn't stand by the sidelines and watch other people do the work", he said.

Multiple protests took place during the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner" as a result of comments by President Donald J. Trump Friday that called for team owners to fire players that protested during the anthem.

"This national anthem ordeal has sort of been out of control and there's a lot of blame on myself", Villanueva said according to Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune.

Villanueva's appearance on the field, hand over his heart during the national anthem while the rest of his teammates remained behind in the locker-room tunnel, was one of the most striking images on a day of unprecedented protests around the league.

Villanueva, who served three tours in Afghanistan, chose to stand his ground instead and placed his hand over his heart while the anthem played.

Both Villanueva and Roethlisberger regretted the way the entire situation played out. "We felt the best thing that everyone was on board with was standing in the tunnel during the anthem". "If those of us or individuals choose to participate in politics in some way I'm going to be supportive of that".

Villanueva was not made available to the media as of late Monday afternoon, and he wasn't visible in the locker room after Sunday's game. "I know that would have looked extremely bad". I made my teammates look bad and that is my fault... only.

On Monday, Roethlisberger put out a statement saying that he wished the Steelers handled the anthem differently and wants the team to show solidarity going forward.



Other news