The Steelers already had one player step out of line regarding their team stance on the national anthem.
Now, another one is wondering if they did the right thing.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger put out a statement on his personal website wondering if the team did the right thing by staying in the locker room during the anthem yesterday. While they voted on the decision as a team, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva left the locker room and could be seen standing alone in the tunnel.
Some players understood his decision, since he’s a former Army Ranger who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan. But in his statement Roethlisberger seemed most interested in making sure everyone knows he likes America too.
“I was unable to sleep last night and want to share my thoughts and feelings on our team’s decision to remain in the tunnel for the national anthem yesterday,” he wrote. “The idea was to be unified as a team when so much attention is paid to things dividing our country, but I wish we approached it differently. We did not want to appear divided on the sideline with some standing and some kneeling or sitting.
“As a team, it was not a protest of the flag or the Anthem. I personally don’t believe the anthem is ever the time to make any type of protest. For me, and many others on my team and around the league, it is a tribute to those who commit to serve and protect our country, current and past, especially the ones that made the ultimate sacrifice.
“I appreciate the unique diversity in my team and throughout the league and completely support the call for social change and the pursuit of true equality. Moving forward, I hope standing for the anthem shows solidarity as a nation, that we stand united in respect for the people on the front lines protecting our freedom and keeping us safe. God bless those men and women.”
If coach Mike Tomlin’s goal was to keep the team together and keep them from becoming pawns in a political game, he needs to gather his pieces together. Because it seems like some of them might be uncomfortable with the decision made, and the blowback that came from it.