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Steelers coach rips veteran Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva for not being 'respectful of his team' after he stands during National Anthem
Stick a fork in the NFL...
I'm from Detroit where, in football terms, I've been saddled with the Lions my entire life. Only in the NFL could you produce a product as worthless as the Detroit Lions, put it on the field for 50 years, and expect people to pay exhorbitant prices for abject garbage. So, for me, the NFL has been a non-issue for a long, long, time. Sure, I would catch a game now and then but, when you know how every season is going to end before the first pre-season game is played, eventually you wonder "what's the point?"
I suspect there are a lot of former NFL fans wondering "what's the point" this morning. The league they love and support gave a lot of them a gargantuan, disrespectful, middle finger yesterday.
Nowhere was that more evident than in Chicago, where Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin appeared to target the ONLY one of his players who decided he'd stand for the National Anthem.
No Steelers were on the sideline during the anthem.— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 24, 2017
LT Alejandro Villanueva, a veteran who served in the Army, stood near the tunnel. pic.twitter.com/JOviLUAtiF
His name is Lt. Alejandro Villanueva. He's an offensive tackle and, much more importantly, he's a former U.S. Army Ranger, a veteran of three tours in Afghanistan, and a Bronze Star recipient for valor in combat. While the rest of his team ignored the Anthem and sat in the locker room, he went out, stood, and sang to honor his country. Coach Tomlin didn't care for that because it was apparently not "respectful of our team."
Tomlin doesn't seem to care much about the issue but, whatever happened, he wanted 100 percent participation:
“Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation, we were gonna be respectful of our football team,” Tomlin said.
Tomlin told the media that, prior to kickoff Sunday, the Steelers held a team meeting and decided, though not unanimously, to not come out of the locker room for the national anthem. Tomlin added the intent was to have his team focus on the game and not President Trump’s comments blasting players who chose to protest during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
“Many of them felt like something needed to be done. I asked those guys to discuss it and whatever they discussed that we have 100 percent participation or we do nothing,” Tomlin said after the game. “They discussed it for an appropriate length of time and they couldn’t come to an understanding, so they chose to remove themselves from it. They were not going to be disrespectful in the anthem so they chose not to participate, but at the same time many of them were not going to accept the words of the president.”
Villanueva, who served three tours in Afghanistan, decided to stand his ground instead and placed his hand over his heart while the anthem played.
“We’re not politicians. We’re coaches and professional athletes," Tomlin said Sunday. "If those of us or individuals choose to participate in politics in some way I’m going to be supportive of that. But when we come out of locker rooms, we come out of locker rooms to play football games."
It's that last line that sounds like a direct shot at Villanueva.
So, we don't have to be respectful of our nation, but we do have to be respectful of "our team?" That's seriously the tack this coach wants to take? How utterly, ridiculously, absurd and idiotic. I get that coaches, who are singularly focused, might have their priorities deeply out of whack, but this is stunning.
Guess what, Coach Tomlin; respect for the nation trumps respect for your piddling little "team" of millionaire malcontents.
...And by the way, the NFL is doing everything it can to scream about the first amendment rights of its players. That goes both ways. You don't get to mandate 100% participation and simultaneously say the players have the right to protest as they wish. How dare a coach call out a player - and a war hero - for showing respect for the country he loves, while giving every whinging one-percenter on his team a free pass in the other direction.
I'm on record saying that the players have every right to "take the knee." I think it's supremely stupid, misdirected, and insulting, but they have the right to do it. In turn, the fans have every right to despise their little tantrum and demand they be fired. Owners have the right to determine what they'll do at that point, and it’s obvious they've made their choice. Now, it's up to the fans to decide their next move.
Will patriotic NFL viewers suck it up, watch anyway, and continue to purchase tickets and merchandise tied directly to these displays, or will they walk away?
We'll see. But given the already declining ratings, I suspect the NFL has no idea what kind of hornet's nest it's decided to kick.