Culture

MSM Fumbles Ball on Villanueva and Anthem

There is a lot of misleading commentary being circulated in the media about the Pittsburgh Steelers' Alejandro Villanueva.

Mark Alexander · Sep. 26, 2017

There is a lot of grossly misleading commentary being circulated by the mainstream media about Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, after he stood in honor of our national anthem Sunday. He is now being accused of “apologizing for honoring the anthem,” but he made no such apology.

As noted in his press conference, Villanueva regretted that the photos of him standing alone implied that none of the other Steelers would have stood with him honoring the anthem: “Very few players knew that I was going to the tunnel because I only asked the team leadership. And because of that I did not give them an opportunity to stand with me during the national anthem. That is the very embarrassing part of my end in what transpired, because when everybody sees an image of me standing by myself, everybody thinks that the team, the Steelers, are not behind me, and that’s absolutely wrong. It’s quite the opposite. Actually, the entire team would’ve been out there with me, even the ones that wanted to take a knee.”

For the record, here are Villanueva’s remarks in context:

Saturday night, as you guys all know, there was a team meeting that was going to determine what … to do as a team. Coach [Mike] Tomlin gave us the guidance that we had to do it all as one, so 100 percent, whatever … we [decided] to do. There was a disagreement in what we were going to do. And the only course of action was to go inside and remove ourselves from the situation. It was never to disrespect the national anthem. Every single one of my teammates is extremely supportive and extremely patriotic in this locker room. And I can not only say that for this locker room, I can say that across the NFL and every single player that I’ve gone against.

After the meeting … based on my unique circumstances and based on the fact that I’ve served in the Army … I asked [teammate and quarterback] Ben [Roethlisberger] if there was a way to define ‘the inside’ … and if I could watch the national anthem from the tunnel, and he agreed. He said the captains will be out there right behind me, so this plan sort of morphed to accommodate this tough, moral dilemma that I had in my hands to where the players can be behind me in the tunnel.

Ben Roethlisberger said at [12:]56 make sure you’re out there because the national anthem is going to start at 57. I walked out at 12:56. I asked one of the security guards when the national anthem was going to start and he said 20 seconds. And so I just walked out and I stopped as soon as I saw the flag, as soon as I had a vantage point. That, to me, was enough. … When I turned around to sort of signal everybody else to come so they wouldn’t leave me alone, that’s when they were essentially unable to exit. At that moment it was the decision of do you walk out of the national anthem and join your teammates? I know that would have looked extremely bad. Or as a team do you start moving halfway through the national anthem? So essentially what we can get out of this is that we butchered our plan to sort of have a response for the national anthem and respect everyone’s opinions.

Villanueva says that his team’s plan was to “remove ourselves from the situation” — a decision that was made in order to avoid offending anyone. In that sense, their motives should be applauded. Villanueva regrets the implication that none of his other teammates supported the anthem. They do and did and would have backed him up. As for Coach Tomlin, perhaps he should have just told his Steelers kneelers to stay off the field for the game too…

Predictably, the MSM talkingheads and news headlines have gotten it wrong again, suggesting Villanueva apologized for honoring our national anthem.

In the wake of all the AWOL NFL players last weekend, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart says, “There will be no discipline handed down this week for anyone who was not there.”

Memo to Joe: According to the NFL’s game operations manual, “The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses.”

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