The Pittsburgh Steelers are the first NFL team to announce that they will sit out the national anthem as a team.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told CBS before today’s game in Chicago that he and his team have decided they will remain in the locker room following President Trump’s suggestion that players who don’t stand for the anthem should be fired.
“We’re not going to play politics,” Tomlin said. “We’re football players, we’re football coaches. We’re not participating in the anthem today. Not to be disrespectful to the anthem, but to remove ourselves from this circumstance. People shouldn’t have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn’t have to be forced to choose sides. If a guy feels the need to do something, he shouldn’t be separated from his teammate who chooses not to. So we’re not participating today. That’s our decision. We’re going to be 100 percent. We came here to play a football game. That’s our intent.”
Protests began with the early Ravens-Jaguars kickoff in London and are expected across the NFL in response to Trump’s comments.
Among the Steelers players staying in the locker room will be left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan.