Our recent stories about the Steelers and Mr. Villanueva were based on MSM reporting but they weren’t totally accurate. CBS Sports and a photo tell a different story from the original.
The reports about the Steelers deciding to hang out in the locker room weren’t accurate in the end. The Steelers decided to head for the tunnel, not stay in the locker room, and Mr. Villanueva accidentally ended up at the front of the line in the tunnel.
Media reports said: Steelers remain in locker room for national anthem before Bears game in Chicago [Sporting News]; Steelers coach Mike Tomlin: Team will stay in locker room, not participate during national anthem [Local 4]; Mike Tomlin explains why Steelers will stay in locker room during national anthem [NFL].
We thought they were hiding in the locker room.
In fact, they were all in the tunnel and no one was kneeling.
This is the photo most people saw.
The next photo shows what happened. The leg you see in the foreground is Mr. Villanueva’s.
All the Steelers were present and standing behind him. They were trying to remain neutral originally but scrapped the plan and were heading out when the anthem began playing, according to the latest reports.
After the incident, aand avoided his teammates on purpose, which is what it looked like to his fellow teammates.
His teammates were confused as to how he ended up in full view.
As it happens, Mr. Villanueva crept up to see a flag for the anthem and the team was about to join him when the anthem started.
Mr. Villanueva’s public display was an accident.
The former Army Ranger and war hero apologized, which he certainly didn’t have to do.
“Every single time I see that picture of me standing by myself, I feel embarrassed,” Villanueva said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “This national anthem ordeal has sort of been out of control, and there’s a lot of blame on myself. Every single one of my teammates is extremely supportive and extremely patriotic. I can honestly said that.”
“Unfortunately, I threw (my teammates) under the bus, unintentionally,” Villanueva said. “I made Coach Tomlin look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only. I made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault.”
“For anybody who thinks that Coach Tomlin is not as patriotic as you can get in America … I’m offended by that,” Villanueva said. “I will support all my teammates, and all my teammates and all my coaches have always supported me.”
“I personally don’t believe the anthem is ever the time to make any type of protest,” Roethlisberger said. “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.”
Mr. Villanueva doesn’t see the kneeling protests as disrespectful of the military and the country. On that we choose to disagree.
If this version of the story is true, why was the coach so angry? We are trying to find the truth and it’s not easy.
Coach Tomlin addressed the media following today’s game in Chicago. pic.twitter.com/rGsECe4g9G
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 24, 2017