The Steelers decided to stay inside the locker room during the national anthem, not as a political statement but to avoid putting players in tough spots. But that still put one player in a tough spot, and he decided to defy the plans previously explained by coach Mike Tomlin.
Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, stood at the edge of the tunnel during the anthem, while his teammates remained inside.
Previously, the national anthem was always played before the teams came out for the game. At one point, that would have been the easiest path out of this mess for the NFL. It’s probably far too late for that — and as one source with knowledge of the situation said on Sunday, “I doubt that will happen.”