This is what it’s come to, folks. An NFL player apologized for being out on the field before a game, hand across his chest while singing The Star Spangled Banner. And although I know this situation is complex with many details, only two facts really matter in this case; Alejandro Villanueva was the only Pittsburgh Steeler on the field for the national anthem on 9/24/17 and then he later felt the need to apologize for it.
The politically correct nonsense of the NFL is reaching higher and higher levels and stupidity with each passing week. For the last few years, I feared that domestic abuse and the CTE scandal would lead to the demise of the NFL. But now it seems more likely that leftist politics is ultimately what’s going to ruin professional football…and I’m not even sure that’s a bad thing. If this is what football is going to be, we’re probably better off without it.
Related post: A Politically Correct Preview of the NFL in 2040.
Honor and Disrespect
The singing of our national anthem had always been a sacred moment of putting aside our differences to honor the flag, the country and the veterans who provide(d) our freedom. It’s now a highly politicized couple of minutes where everyone’s looking to see who’s standing and who’s protesting.
Most of us who are angered by the protests have acknowledged the rights of players to disrespect the anthem by drawing attention to themselves. Those who kneel claim no intent to be disrespectful, but they’re not the only ones who get to interpret their actions. It demonstrates incredibly bad judgment and a near-total lack of perspective, in my opinion. Also, none of the kneelers has adequately explained how their cause will benefit from the act of deeply offending people.
I’m now just observing the actions and reactions of everyone involved. And it’s becoming very clear that the NFL, the team owners and the coaches will default to a politically-correct position on every occasion. And just to be clear, when I say “politically correct,” I mean “sympathetic and supportive of leftist viewpoints.” That’s an important distinction because those of us who are politically conservative don’t see any virtue or correctness in these protests. Here’s Bills running back LeSean McCoy stretching during the anthem and making an absolute fool out of himself:
LeSean McCoy is stretching during the national anthem pic.twitter.com/SNWCPBOJXa
— Football tweets™ (@footballtwiits) September 24, 2017
Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly:
“I like LeSean McCoy, don’t get me wrong, but I totally, 100 percent I disagree with what he did. You want to kneel? Fine. But when you go and do what he did yesterday, that sort of bummed me out. And I lost a lot of respect for him.”
Some decision maker on the Pittsburgh Steelers figured the best way to handle this controversy was to keep the entire team in the locker room during the national anthem. Consider for a moment what this means. They decided to avoid all the awkwardness of standing and kneeling by preventing the whole team from participating in the anthem, even those who might’ve wished to be out there.
Steelers’ left tackle Alejandro Villanueva proactively requested permission from someone in leadership to leave the locker room and go onto the field, specifically to be there for the anthem. That permission was apparently granted. He stood just outside of the tunnel, right hand over his chest while singing The Star-Spangled Banner with everyone else in Soldier Field.
Former Army Ranger Captain Alejandro Villanueva was the only Steeler to stand for the National Anthem. He served his country, thank you. 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/2zHUS78NYg
— Derek Utley (@DerekUtleyCEO) September 24, 2017
This was the move I’d been waiting for. I wished that someone would disrupt the tension of the moment by bringing the attention back to where it belonged. I wanted a player to run down the field with an American flag and hoist it in the air. But this simple move by Villanueva was 100 times better.
If he’d been surrounded by his team, he would still be just another unknown athlete on a football team. But because he made this bold move and did it alone, he’s being praised and applauded across the country by those who rightly understand what the national anthem is for. He reclaimed the moment from those who tried to make it into something else. He did it respectfully, modestly and with permission.
Today, however, Villanueva is the one who’s apologizing.
Forcing Unity Creates More Division
There are many people who should be apologizing today, but Villanueva isn’t one of them. He never should’ve been in the position of having to leave his football team to honor the country he served. Yet because there is apparently no one among the management of the Steelers with enough courage to defend American values, it was Villanueva who felt compelled to do it alone.
Head coach Mike Tomlin was clearly upset about the situation. In the following video, he goes out of his way to explain that the team couldn’t agree on a unified way of doing the anthem. So it was therefore decided that none of them would participate.
I wonder if anyone suggested that those who wished not to participate should discreetly go into the locker room after stretching while those who wished to stand should stay out on the field and stand. For all the talk of being 100% united as a team, the fact is that the team is not 100% united. And that’s ok. The idea would’ve and should’ve satisfied everyone.
Removing all the players from the tradition of honoring their country was the wrong move. It put Villanueva in the awkward position of being the only Steeler who stood for the flag that day. He’s an Army veteran who did 3 tours in Afghanistan…so you’d better believe that flag is sacred to him. He shouldn’t be denied the right to participate in the ceremony of the anthem. It’s the leadership of the Steelers who should apologize to him rather than him apologizing to the leadership.
NFL (Not for Long)
The NFL had better figure this out. The fans see all these accommodations for the kneelers and protesters. But they also remember the league’s steadfast refusal to allow the Cowboys to honor fallen Dallas cops with a simple sticker on their helmets (story). The NFL tolerated the Hands Up Don’t Shoot gestures of the Rams. But the league threatened to fine players who honored the victims and heroes of 9/11. It’s duplicitous, biased and bad for business. No company or league will last if it makes a habit of offending its customers.