After his team declined to participate in the national anthem today, a visibly angry Steelers coach Mike Tomlin addressed President Trump’s comments, saying it’s wrong to drag the NFL into a political morass.
Tomlin had his team stay in the locker room for the national anthem because he didn’t want them to be divided after Trump called on NFL players who protest during the anthem to be fired.
“We will not be divided by this,” Tomlin said. “We got a group of men in there that come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, races, creeds, ethnicities, religions and so forth. That’s football, that’s a lot of team sports. But because of opposition, we get drug into bulls–t, to be quite honest with you. Some have opinions, some don’t. We wanted to protect those that don’t, we wanted to protect those that do. We came here to play a football game today and that was our intentions.”
The Steelers were not, however, completely united staying in the locker room for the anthem. One Steeler, Alejandro Villanueva, exited the locker room and stood at attention just outside the players’ tunnel as the anthem was played in Chicago. Villanueva is a West Point graduate and veteran of three tours of duty in Afghanistan.