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Did Alejandro Villanueva admit he ‘made a mistake’ by standing for the National Anthem?



Just a day after standing alone for the National Anthem, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Allejandro Villanueva appeared on television to apologize for making his coach, teammates, and the Steelers “look bad.”

“…that is my fault and my fault only,” Villanueva said at the end of each sentence.

“So, unwillingly, I’ve made a mistake,” he continued. “And so I’ve 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 reactions from fans, from players, and it’s undeserving to all the players and coaches from this organization,” Villanueva concluded.

Does that mean he admitted standing for the anthem was a mistake, or only that making his teammates look bad was a mistake?

It’s really hard to tell from the video, but I’m inclined to think it’s the latter. “Unwillingly, I’ve made a mistake,” he said–he might have meant “unwittingly,” but either way, it indicates that Villanueva was going to stand for the anthem, regardless of what his teammates or coach thought. He probably hadn’t thought through the implications. It made Coach Tomlin look like an unpatriotic jerk, his teammates look like cowards, and the team look like a clown show.

But who’s responsible for that? Not Villanueva. He followed his conscience and his principles. As a former captain in the U.S. Army, Villanueva knows the value of cohesion. He knows the value of teamwork. Many times, in Army basic training and other leadership schools, situations are used where the “wrong” answer is tolerated as long as the group remains cohesive. Villanueva broke that cohesion for his own team Sunday.

But when does principle and moral duty to render honors override the group when the group is being cowardly and juvenile in unity?

There are times when unity has to be sacrificed for doing the right thing. It appears to me that Villanueva did the right thing, unapologetically. But it seems he did apologize for breaking group cohesion, “unwillingly.”

Perhaps the team should be ashamed at having to place a decorated veteran in such a situation. If there’s any tut-tutting going on here, it should be about all the men who didn’t join Villanueva on the field. At least to kneel beside him. They took the coward’s way out, and that’s not the Ranger way.

The Ranger creed, which Villanueva certainly knows by heart, ends thusly:

Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the ranger objective and complete the mission, though I be the lone survivor.

Rangers lead the way, and despite what the Steelers might think of him, a grateful nation, and his fellow Rangers, know he made the right decision.

Scarlett is a mom and a friend. She blogs for a living but really prefers to read more than write. She writes mostly about politics, but occasionally delves into book and movie reviews.

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