“My fault … only”: Alejandro Villanueva APOLOGIZED.
“Every single time I see that picture of me standing by myself, I feel embarrassed.” Alejandro Villaneuva said in a news conference.
The Steelers had decided as a team to remain in the locker room and not come to the sidelines for the playing of the national anthem, with one notable exception. The team understood that tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger and Afghan war veteran, would still come out to show respect for the flag.
When answering questions from reporters after the game, Mike Tomlin (the head coach) seemed to rap Villanueva, repeating the claim that the team was looking for “100% participation,”
Tomlin: Many of them felt like something needed to be done. I asked those guys to discuss it and whatever they discussed that we have 100 percent participation or we do nothing. They discussed it for an appropriate length of time and they couldn’t come to an understanding, so they chose to remove themselves from it. They were not going to be disrespectful in the anthem so they chose not to participate, but at the same time many of them were not going to accept the words of the president.
“Unfortunately, I threw my teammates under the bus, unintentionally,” Villanueva said in a press conference Monday.
He said the team had a meeting Saturday night before the game to discuss what they were going to do.
“Coach Tomlin gave us the guidance that we had to do it all as one, so 100 percent, in whatever it is that we had to do. There was a disagreement in what we were going to do and the only course of action was to go inside and remove ourselves from the situation,” Villanueva said.
Commentary by two people：“you are the only one that did something right” “it is sickening he has to apologize in the America”
Below is the transcript of the news conference
Alejandro Villanueva: This is humbling.
So I’ll first address the last 48 hours of events and what’s transpired.
This national anthem sort of ordeal has been out of control, and I think there’s a lot to blame on myself, and I want to address it.
So Saturday night, as you guys all know, there was a team meeting that was going to determine what we were going to do as a team. Coach [Mike] Tomlin gave us the guidance that we had to do it as one, so 100 percent, whatever it is that we had to do.
There was disagreement in what we were going to do. And the only course of action was to go inside and remove ourself from the situation. It was never to disrespect the national anthem. Every single one of my teammates is extremely supportive and extremely patriotic in this locker room.
And I can not only say that for this locker room, but I can say that across the NFL, every single player that I’ve gone against.
After the meeting … based on my unique circumstances and based on the fact that I’ve served in the Army and pretty much that my life is lived through the military, I asked Ben [Roethlisberger] if there was a way to define the inside or where it is we were going to stay and if I could watch the national anthem from the tunnel, and he agreed.
He said the captains will be out there right behind me, so this plan morphed to accommodate this tough, moral dilemma that I had in my hands to where the players can be behind me in the tunnel.
Ben Roethlisberger said at 56 make sure you’re out there because the national anthem is going to start at 57. I walked out at 12:56. I asked one of the security guards when the national anthem was going to start, he said 20 seconds.
So I just walked out and I stopped as soon as I saw the flag, as soon as I had a vantage point. That, to me, was enough. There was a flag that was coming in from one of the previous celebrations. When I turned around to sort of signal everyone to come so they wouldn’t leave me alone that’s when they were essentially unable to exit.
At that moment it was the decision of do you walk out of the national anthem and join your teammates? I know that would have looked extremely bad. Or as a team, do you start moving halfway through the national anthem?
So essentially what we can get out of this is we butchered our plan to sort of have a response for the national anthem and respect everyone’s opinions.
I would say that my personal thoughts about the situation is that regardless of this plan, very few players knew that I was going to the tunnel because I only asked the team leadership. And because of that I did not give them an opportunity to stand with me during the national anthem.
That is the very embarrassing part of my end in what transpired, because when everybody sees an image of me standing by myself, everybody thinks that the team, the Steelers, are not behind me, and that’s absolutely wrong.
It’s quite the opposite. They all would have … actually the entire team would have been out there with me, even the ones who wanted to take a knee would have been with me had they known these extreme circumstances that at Soldier Field, in the heat of the moment, when I’ve got soldiers, wounded veterans texting me that I have to be out there, I think everything would have been put aside, from every single one of my teammates, no doubt.
So because of that, I’ve made Coach Tomlin look bad, and that is my fault, and that is my fault only. I made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault, and my fault only. And I made the Steelers also look bad, and that is my fault, and my fault only. So unwillingly, I made a mistake.
I talked to my teammates about the situation, hopefully they understand it. If they don’t, I still have to live with it, because the nature of this debate is causing a lot of very heated reaction from fans from players, and it’s undeserving to all of the players and coaches from this organization.