Eyes turned to the NFL on Sunday to see which players would take a knee during the anthem after President Donald Trump called those who kneel a son of bitch and asked the audience if they wouldn’t like to see the NFL fire them. He reiterated this thoughts on Twitter with his catchphrase YOU’RE FIRED.

Well, some NFL players chose to kneel while others locked arms together. A few teams chose to stay in the locker room, like the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, one player on the Steelers decided to stand for the anthem…a veteran who served three tours in Afghanistan.

Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva (Pittsburg Steelers) defies teammates

Pittsburgh Steeler offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva stood right outside of the tunnel with his right hand over his heart.

See, Alejandro played football at West Point Military Academy for the Army Black Knights. He eventually became an Army Ranger and served three tours in Afghanistan. The government awarded him the Bronze Star Medal for Valor.

The Philadelphia Eagles signed him in 2014. He had said if he didn’t make a football team he would serve another tour in Afghanistan. But due to his diet and gaining 40lbs, the Eagles cut him in August of that year.

The Steelers signed him in 2015 with a two year contract. His improvements led the team to give him a 4 year contract this past July. But it was Villanueva’s anthem stance that caught the attention of head coach Mike Tomlin. From NFL:

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says he spotted Villanueva during a preseason game because of the way he stood during the national anthem, and the team later picked Villanueva up and converted him to tackle, where he became a starter during the 2015 season. He’s surprised many by stabilizing the position in Pittsburgh as part of one of the best offensive lines in football.

Before the game against the Chicago Bears, Tomlin said the team would stay in the locker room. Villanueva did not

Here’s a piece on CBS This Morning on Villanueva. A hero and patriot.

Fans Boo Patriots Players who took a knee

20 New England Patriots players took a knee during the National Anthem.

The fans were not amused, booed and screamed “stand up”. The NY Post reports:

The Patriots players made their statement, and many fans did so in response.

Before Sunday’s Texans-Patriots matchup in Foxborough, Mass., about 20 Patriots players, according to ESPN, took a knee during the national anthem, the first time anyone on the team had joined the growing protest.

In return, a loud chorus of boos was heard sandwiching the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” According to the Boston Herald, there were shouts of, “Stand up,” as they knelt.

Teams Locked Arms in Unity

But hey! Let’s give props to my Chicago Bears, who had no players kneel (and also pulled off the win!) during the anthem.

The Cincinnati Bengals all locked arms with each other during the anthem. No one on that team has participated in the protest since former QB Colin Kaepernick started it last year.

From ESPN:

“Football and politics don’t mix easily,” said a statement issued by the Bengals prior to the game. “Fans come to NFL games to watch great competition on the playing field and that’s where our focus should be.”

A few weeks ago, Bengals player Tyler Eifert penned a blog that explained why he stood for the anthem. Simple answer: he loves his country and wants to honor those in the armed forces.

All of the Houston Texans stood and locked arms during the anthem:

Kneeling….and Stretching?!

The Texans played against the New England Patriots, some of whom knelt. QB Tom Brady stood with his hand over his heart.

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens played their game in London, England, on Sunday. The players all stood for “God Save the Queen,” the UK anthem, but some players chose to kneel for our anthem.

Buffalo Bills player LaSean McCoy took disrespect to a whole new level by stretching:

No Shows for National Anthem

As mentioned above, except for Villanueva, the Steelers stayed in the locker room:

They weren’t the only team to choose this action. The Seattle Seahawks and their opponent Tennessee Titans did not come out for the anthem.

The teams released these statements:


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