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Steelers' Alejandro Villanueva 'embarrassed' he stood alone for national anthem

Steelers' Alejandro Villanueva 'embarrassed' he stood alone for national anthem”

Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva's merchandise is in high demand after he stood alone outside a tunnel at Soldier Field during the national anthem on Sunday.

"The entire team would have been out there with me, even the ones that wanted to take a knee would have been there with me had they known these extremely (difficult) circumstances", he said.

The entire Steelers active playing roster - except for Villanueva - remained in the tunnel underneath Soldier Field in Chicago as the American national anthem was played before their game against the Bears, in a display created to show a unified front within the Steelers organisation. He also apologized to coach Mike Tomlin and the rest of the team. Villanueva said he arrived early and walked out far enough to see the flag.

"Unfortunately, I threw (my teammates) under the bus, unintentionally", Villanueva said.

Villanueva - a former Army Ranger and graduate of West Point - had the top-selling merchandise among any National Football League player on Fanatics.com and NFLShop.com in the 24 hours after kickoff of the Steelers-Chicago Bears game, Fanatics vice president of communications Meier Raivich confirmed to USA TODAY Sports in an email.

The Steelers held a players-only meeting Saturday night to discuss their options in the wake of Trump's suggestion that NFL owners fire players who kneel for the national anthem. The 29-year-old is in his fourth season with the Steelers. "When everyone sees images of me standing by myself, everybody thinks the team and the Steelers are not behind me and that is absolutely wrong".

The Steelers' decision proved unpopular with numerous team's fans, who went on social media to voice their displeasure and even posted videos of themselves burning Steelers merchandise. "I made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only". His stand has made his jersey one of the top sellers in the NFL. We did not want to appear divided on the sideline with some standing and some kneeling or sitting.

"Or as a team do you start moving halfway through the anthem. For me, and many others on my team and around the league, it is a tribute to those who commit to serve and protect our country, current and past, especially the ones that made the ultimate sacrifice".

Roethlisberger issued a statement on his personal website Monday saying he regretted the team's decision to miss the anthem.

Tomlin told the media prior to kickoff Sunday the Steelers would not come out of the locker room for the national anthem, adding the intent was to have his team focus on the game and not President Trump's comments blasting players who chose to protest during the playing of The Star Spangled Banner. He said the fact that they were about to play at Soldier Field also influenced him.

Cam Heyward said, "we support our guy Al".



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