After NFL players took a knee during the National Anthem on Sunday, one wonders if there’s a limit to how much of a dunce one (or a whole team) can be (see Actor Jesse Williams Says ‘NFL Standing for the Anthem is a Military Conspiracy!’ and Of Course. NFL Players Demand League-Wide ‘Social Justice Month’).
Meanwhile head Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is baking the cake for “NFL’s Douchiest Asswipe.” After a Steelers player, Alejandro Villanueva, defied his team and saluted the anthem (thus winning American hearts), Tomlin embraced him in a manly bear hug with light, but affirming, spankings.
Just kidding, the coach publicly spit in his face (metaphorically speaking).
For Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, being “respectful of our football team” trumped the right of Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva to show respect for the national anthem.
A former Army Ranger, Villanueva was the only Steeler to break from the team’s orders and come out of the tunnel Sunday in Chicago to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation, we were gonna be respectful of our football team,” Tomlin said.
Respect for team versus respect for country. Okay, let’s compare. The team consists of smelly guys who run around a grassy plain, smash into one another, and throw tanned pigskins in wobbly spirals for fat stacks. The country is protected by squadrons of soldiers dodging bullets and crawling through mud and blood to sustain the right to throw said wobbly pigskins.
One of these things is not like the other.
Villanueva, who served three tours in Afghanistan, decided to stand his ground instead and placed his hand over his heart while the anthem played.
“We’re not politicians. We’re coaches and professional athletes,” Tomlin said Sunday. “If those of us or individuals choose to participate in politics in some way I’m going to be supportive of that. But when we come out of locker rooms, we come out of locker rooms to play football games.”
Well at least he got something right: NFL teams should play football. Not make political statements. Standing for the National Anthem in the country in which you reside isn’t the same as being pro-choice, pro-life, pro or anti minimum wage increase, or whether you think Hillary should launch her own pantsuit line at next year’s Vogue Fashion Week. It’s not about liberal or conservative either. It’s simple respect for a nation. You don’t have to like everything a nation has done to respect that nation.
By the way, protesting the Anthem only became woke after Colin “Let’s Throw Another Interception” Kaepernick decided to make it woke. How that snickerdoodle ever became worthy of a movement is beyond reason.
But Villanueva had the best take:
“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 in 2016.
I can stand for that one.
As to Mike Tomlin: if “standing with the team” comes at the price of ticking off most the audience and fanbase, there may come a time where the team is sitting for more than just the anthem.
America still is the best country in the world.
Co-written by Courtney Kirchoff and Nichole Cooper