Sometimes sleeping on something helps bring clarity. Other times it brings with it regret.
Sunday’s Week 3 slate of NFL games contained 28 teams staging some kind of protest, demonstration or show of unity. Some players took a knee during the National Anthem. Others raised their fist in protest. Many others locked arms in a show of unity — all brought on by comments over the weekend by President Donald Trump criticizing NFL players, saying that the ones who kneel should be fired.
Three teams, the Titans, Seahawks and Steelers elected not to participate in the anthem at all.
The show of unity was also a way for teams to avoid the sight of some players sitting and others saluting, the Steelers decided to remain in the locker room as to avoid looking divided. Every Pittsburgh player save for offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva — who served in the Army — stayed in the locker room during the anthem. Not unrelated, his jersey sales have catapulted to No. 1 in the entire NFL.
While many players are using the spotlight as an opportunity to make a political statement, as is their first amendment right to do, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger regretted his team’s decision — one supported by head coach Mike Tomlin.
In a statement released on his website bigben7.com, Roethlisberger said the following:
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. 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. 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.
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.