All but one of the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to protest by staying in their locker room, during the playing of the national anthem at Sunday afternoon’s game in Chicago. The lone dissenter was former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva who bucked the team’s decision and took the field, anyway, hand over his heart and helmet under his arm.
This isn’t the first time the Steelers’ offensive tackle has been at odds with fellow players over anthem protests.
Last year, Villanueva criticized Colin Kaepernick for his protests during the national anthem:
“I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down during the national anthem with a country that’s providing you freedom, providing you $16 million a year … when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for less than $20,000 a year,” Villanueva said of the anthem protests.
Villanueva was a Captain in the U.S. Army during much of his service overseas (with three tours of duty in Afghanistan) and now holds the rank of Major in the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. He was also the recipient of the Bronze Star with “V” device.