NEW YORK POST – YARON STEINBUCH
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, who broke with his team to stand for the national anthem on Sunday, became the best-selling NFL playerMonday, according to a report.
The former Army Ranger, who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan, was the only Steeler to appear for “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the game against the Chicago Bears.
His patriotic counter protest while his teammates remained in the locker room helped him unseat New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as the top gear seller in the league, ESPN reported.
A spokesman for Fanatics, which runs the NFL’s online store, confirmed that more Villanueva items, including jerseys and T-shirts, had been ordered than that of any other NFL player in the past 24 hours.
His actions weren’t supported by everyone — including his own coach.
Asked after the Steelers’ 23-17 loss what he thought of Villanueva’s positioning for the anthem, Mike Tomlin said: “I was looking for 100 percent participation. We were gonna be respectful of our football team.”
When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first started kneeling before games, Villanueva said he questioned whether kneeling during the national anthem was appropriate.
“I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down during the national anthem with a country that’s providing you freedom, providing you $16 million a year … when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for less than $20,000 a year,” Villanueva told ESPN last year.
About 180 players didn’t stand for the national anthem Sunday. Three teams — the Steelers, Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks — didn’t come to the sideline for the song.