Steelers leaders didn’t know Alejandro Villanueva planned to break ranks on Antwon Rose decision

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Former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva broke ranks on Sunday. Two of the team’s captains said Wednesday that they didn’t know he’d be doing it.

After the Steelers voted as a team to honor Antwon Rose II by placing his name on the rear bumper of every helmet, Villaneuva taped the handwritten name of Alwyn Cashe over Rose’s name on Villanueva’s helmet.

“I was surprised by what Al did,” defensive end Cameron Heyward said Wednesday, via Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“I did not know about Al’s choice for the back of his helmet,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said, via Dulac. Both Heyward and Roethlisberger are among the team’s 2020 captains.

“Obviously, that’s his choice,” Roethlisberger added. “That’s the amazing thing about the country we live in. Unfortunately, it is what it is.”

Heyward explained that the team had discussed their approach for the game and chose to honor Rose, who was shot and killed in 2018 by a Pittsburgh police officer. So the significance here isn’t just the gesture but the fact that Villanueva went against a team that typically moves in lockstep on any and all issues, including for example their unanimous “no” vote on the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The situation presents a curious intersection of individual liberties and there’s-no-I-in-team. Villanueva absolutely has the right to do what he wants to do when it comes to the name on the back of his helmet (the league may disagree with that, since Cashe’s name wasn’t on the approved list). However, the team collectively decided that all players would have Rose’s name on their helmets. Villanueva went rogue without telling anyone before doing so.

That’s the deeper question that could linger in the locker room, given that some will think that, at a minimum, Villanueva should have told someone that he planned to not go along with his teammates, and that failing to tell anyone that he wouldn’t be complying with the will of the team constitutes a slap in their face.

31 responses to “Steelers leaders didn’t know Alejandro Villanueva planned to break ranks on Antwon Rose decision

  1. These are complicated issues and I’m not sure there’s a “right” answer – but Villanueva should’ve at least spoken up at some point. His desire to honor a veteran killed in action is commendable, but it also implies that he doesn’t feel Antwon Rose deserves to be acknowledged.

    I sincerely hope that every commentor who is offended by kneeling during the anthem will also complain about Villanueva’s personal, peaceful protest.

    Personally, I think he should be able to do what he wants, but as a member of a team he should’ve made his teammates aware of what he was doing.

  2. Can’t wait to see the reaction if the NFL tries to tell AV that he can’t honor a guy who could possibly be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

  3. This guy is a leader not a follower. He told Tomlin what he was going to do, and he was ok with it.

  4. Tomlin said that Villanueva discussed it with him and he was ok with it. But apparently it was not discussed with his teammates which is strange. So now this becomes some type of internal issue, with everything else a football team normally has to deal with during the season. This just goes to show how insane all this stuff is, how it starts drama, etc. Just play football and do your social justicing outside on your own time.

  5. dolphin80 says:
    September 17, 2020 at 9:35 am
    There’s an approved list of who players can choose to honor? Wow, that’s freedom!


    There’s an approved list of what players can do during the anthem? Wow, that’s freedom!

  6. Everyone should be PROUD of him. HE a) thinks for himself and his heart, B) choose a Hero that served this country. I applaud him.

  7. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13

    Cashe, an Army sergeant first class who died in November 2005 while trying to save his men from a burning Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

  8. An easy solution might have been to place that handwritten name above the name the team agreed to. You’d still have done what you agreed to do while also pissing off the league by honoring someone not on the list. A win win.

  9. I wouldn’t trust the guy as far as I could throw him if I was on the team. He should have been man enough to tell his teammates what he was going to do. There is no problem with using a different name, but taping over the name that was the team consensus and not telling the team was a selfish and divisive move. No doubt Mr. Villanueva has political ambitions.

  10. Regardless of what the team agreed upon, Villanueva decided to honor someone who was truly worthy of honor. I suggest anyone who isn’t familiar with the stories of both of the departed men, spend a moment to look into them. Anyone who has a problem with what Alejandro did, is giving up any moral high ground.

  11. He also went against the team in the 2018 protest, going out of the tunnel to stand by himself when they had all agreed to stay in the tunnel.
    Also, if Tomlin knew, why did he not tell the guy to tell the other players?

  12. Good for AV. Besides, wasn’t this supposed to be optional??? If Al’s teammates are unhappy about it, he knows their “support our troops” proclamations are fiction.

  13. I’d be honored to line up next to A.V. anytime in any endeavor. Thank you for your service to this great country!

  14. Once you do this…
    “One of the first missions I did was to actually carry the limbs and the body parts of a soldier from another company…”

    …then you can put whatever name you want on your helmet.

  15. “Obviously, that’s his choice,” Roethlisberger added. “That’s the amazing thing about the country we live in. Unfortunately, it is what it is.”

    Can someone tells me what that means

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