The Pittsburgh Steelers caused quite a stir when they became the first NFL team to protest the national anthem by refusing to even be in attendance for it.
While most of the Steelers stayed in the locker room, military veteran Alejandro Villanueva stood at the entrance of the tunnel, standing with his hand over his heart.
Now it sounds like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wishes he would’ve joined Villanueva. The Steelers superstar seemingly expressed remorse, posting on his personal website something resembling an apology.
“I was unable to sleep last night and want to share my thoughts and feelings on our team’s decision to remain in the tunnel for the National Anthem yesterday,” Roethlisberger wrote yesterday.
“The idea was to be unified as a team when so much attention is paid to things dividing our country, but I wish we approached it differently. We did not want to appear divided on the sideline with some standing and some kneeling or sitting.
“As a team, it was not a protest of the flag or the anthem. I personally don’t believe the anthem is ever the time to make any type of protest.”
Ironically, Roethlisberger was doing exactly that through his absence during 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 wrote.
“I appreciate the unique diversity in my team and throughout the league and completely support the call for social change and the pursuit of true equality. Moving forward, I hope standing for the anthem shows solidarity as a nation, that we stand united in respect for the people on the front lines protecting our freedom and keeping us safe. God bless those men and women.”
While offering a second-guess on his team’s actions is commendable, the contriteness certainly seems questionable. If he was as authentic in his concerns as he made it out to be, why didn’t he act sooner? The quarterback, especially one as experienced as Roethlisberger, is the leader of the team.
One could surmise that Roethlisberger could’ve done something to act sooner.
Perhaps Roethlisberger had no choice and was out-voted.
If his remorse is authentic, then the Steelers have no excuse for Week 4 not to follow Villanueva’s lead and stand for the national anthem.
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