Steelers Alejandro Villanueva: ‘I threw my teammates under the bus unintentionally’
PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Steelers lineman Alejandro Villanueva said the national anthem fiasco has gotten out of control and he threw his team under the bus.
“Unfortunately I threw my teammates under the bus, unintentionally,” Villanueva said in a press conference Monday. “Every single time I see that picture of me standing by myself I feel embarrassed.”
Villanueva was the only Steelers player standing outside the tunnel prior to the national anthem before Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.
The rest of the team remained in the tunnel.
“I made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault, and my fault only,” Villanueva said. “We as a team tried to figure it out, but obviously butchered it.”
Villanueva added “I talked to my teammates about it, I hope they understand it, if they don’t, I still have to live with it. The nature of this debate is causing a lot of very heated reactions from fans and players and its undeserving for the players an coaches of this organization.”
On Monday, Villanueva’s No. 78 jersey was outselling big names like Marshawn Lynch and Aaron Rodgers on the NFL Shop.
Villanueva was a captain and an Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan and received several medals for his service, including the Bronze Star.
Protests during the national anthem began last year when former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest the treatment of black Americans, especially by the police.
Kaepernick’s jersey also hit the top spot after he began the protest.
He pledged to donate all the money he made off jersey sales.
According to the agreement between the league and the players union, players get two-thirds of the money from jersey sales. The rest goes to the union, and some of that goes into a pool for all NFL players.