“I was frustrated and angry at the Steelers not standing for the anthem”, Smith said. “Now we have to figure out what’s the next step”, said Bushrod, who stood arm-in-arm with teammates for the anthem before Miami’s loss to the New York Jets.
“I really can’t explain what he was thinking, and I hope the world understands that that’s not how Cecil Township feels”, Fisher said.
That changes the narrative significantly.
The decision was collaborative; the team wanted to show unity without being demonstrative. Alejandro Villanueva stood with his hand over his heart and sang along.
After calling out NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Saturday for his response to the comments, Trump said on Twitter Sunday that players who protested should be fined or suspended.
Once his remarks made its way across the Internet, Smith retracted his statement, admitting, “I am embarrassed at this”.
“There was a flag that was coming in from the previous celebrations and when I turned around to sort of signal everybody else to come so they wouldn’t leave me alone that’s when they were essentially unable to exit”, he said.
For three days, Trump has drawn criticism from the worlds of politics and sports for saying that football players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired.
The Steelers also issued a statement on Tuesday to clarify that their actions on Sunday were not meant to be a boycott of the anthem.
After losing to the Chicago Bears, Tomlin spoke out against Villanueva’s decision. He said he couldn’t walk out then.
Many players sat, kneeled, raised fists or stayed inside locker rooms as the anthem played before each game, and as team owners encouraged players to express themselves. “But I guess we weren’t”.
One Steelers player chose to break with Tomlin’s decision, and came out to stand for the national anthem with his hand over his heart. “But whatever we do, we’re going do 100 percent, we’re going to do together”.
“I’ve made the Steelers look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only”, Villanueva said.
The Pittsburgh Steelers bench area stays empty during the national anthem prior to the start of the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. They wish the rest of the team would have followed suit.
Villanueva said his teammates are extremely supportive and patriotic.
In response, players across the National Football League knelt or stood and locked arms during the anthem.