Trump’s recent tweets that said athletes who take a knee during the National Anthem should be fired have sparked a national controversy that turned into a raging inferno on Sunday.
While the NFL problem with kneel-downs was already bad enough, players across the league knelt down in large numbers to protest the president’s comments Sunday. While most of the coverage focused on the protests, there were some players that defied their coaches and teams to take a stand in defense of our flag, including a former Army Ranger.
As reported at the Daily Mail, Pittsburgh Steeler’s left tackle Alejandro Villanueva was the only player from his team on the field for the National Anthem during pregame, as his teammates decided to stay in the locker room in protest of Trump.
The move angered Steeler’s head coach Mike Tomlin, who expected all the players to act as one. “Like I said, I was looking for 100 per cent participation, we were gonna be respectful of our football team,” Tomlin said following his team’s 23-17 loss to the Chicago Bears.
Villanueva is a West Point graduate and served 3 tours in Afghanistan as an Army Ranger, so it’s hardly surprising that he refused to join the infantile protest movement against the president.
Despite knowing about his decorated past and patriotic service, Villanueva’s teammates were supposedly surprised by his actions. After the game, Tomlin said that many of the players “felt like something needed to be done.”
“I asked those guys to discuss it and whatever they discussed that we have 100 per cent participation or we do nothing,” Tomlin said. What should be done is for them to focus on doing their jobs and winning football games, not ignorantly wading into politics.
Tomlin said the players’ decision wasn’t unanimous, and that the intent was to have his team focus on the game and not President Donald Trump’s comments about players who chose to protest during the anthem.
“We’re not going to play politics,” Tomlin said. ‘We’re football players, we’re football coaches. We’re not participating in the anthem today – not to be disrespectful to the anthem, but to remove ourselves from the circumstance.” Sure, Mike, sure.
He added: “People shouldn’t have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn’t be forced to choose sides.
“If a guy feels the need to do something, he shouldn’t be separated from his teammate who chooses not to. But when we come out of locker rooms, we come out of locker rooms to play football games.”
Tomlin can’t seem to make up his mind. He doesn’t want people to have to choose or feel like they can’t follow their conscience, but at the same time, if it means going against the majority or “being separated from teammates” then it’s no longer acceptable.
Funny, he had no problem with players breaking ranks and acting selfishly by taking knees while the rest of their teammates stood for the anthem. But now that the script is flipped, it’s suddenly a problem. And when it involves an Bronze Star recipient no less.
The NFL is in dire straits thanks to the increasing politicalization of the sport, and that’s a good thing. There are far more important things to give one’s time and attention to. Even so, no one wants to be preached at or lectured while watching a bunch of grown men fight over an egg-shaped pigskin.
Source: Daily Mail