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#pounditFriday, December 4, 2020

Alejandro Villanueva ’embarrassed’ he stood alone for national anthem

Alejandro Villanueva was the only Pittsburgh Steelers player to emerge from the locker room when the national anthem played on Sunday, and the offensive lineman says he is filled with regret over the decision making his teammates look bad.

Villanueva delivered a statement about the situation on Monday, telling reporters the Steelers felt unified as a team Saturday night but “butchered” the way they handled the national anthem.

“This national anthem ordeal has sort of been out of control, and there’s a lot of blame on myself,” Villanueva said, per Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I made coach (Mike) Tomlin look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only. I made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault … only. Unfortunately, I threw (my teammates) under the bus, unintentionally. Every single time I see that picture of me standing by myself, I feel embarrassed.

“The team meeting that we had on Saturday night brought the whole team together. Absolutely, we had great conversations. We decided to stay away from the situation, not protest it, but stay away from the situation. We as a team tried to figure it out. Obviously, we butchered it. … I’m not gonna pretend I have some kind of righteous voice.”

Tomlin said before Sunday’s game that the Steelers were going to remain in the locker room during the anthem, not as a form of protest but to remove themselves from a situation that can make the team look divided. Villanueva feels Tomlin and all of the Steelers players are patriotic in their own right, and he has no issue with anyone kneeling during the anthem.

Villanueva is a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan. Fans have already shown how much they loved what the veteran did, but he clearly wishes he had handled the situation differently.

Ben Roethlisberger also issued a statement on Monday about the way the Steelers approached the national anthem, and the quarterback expressed regret over the decision the team made.

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