By Lizie Ebert
The Pittsburgh Steelers remained in their locker room during the national anthem before their game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, September 24, 2017, in protest.
Many NFL players across the nation have begun to kneel instead of standing during the national anthem in protest to political and Black Lives Matter issues arising all over the nation, much to the anger of many individuals and public figures. In order to avoid this controversy, The Pittsburgh Steelers refrained from taking the field.
Alejandro Villanueva, offensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers and veteran of the US Army, was the only player to take the field.
At a rally on Friday, November 22, in Alabama, President Donald Trump stated, “NFL players should stand during the National Anthem or ‘YOU’RE FIRED!’ Find something else to do.”
Head coach of the Steelers, Mike Tomlin, said the following when asked about the issue:
“We’re not going to play politics. We’re football players, we’re football coaches. We’re not participating in the anthem today. Not to be disrespectful to the anthem, but to remove ourselves from this circumstance. That’s our decision. We’re going to be 100 percent. We came here to play a football game. That’s our intent.”
Colin Witmer, a junior at CDHS and a member of the varsity football team stated, “I think it’s disrespectful, and if one of my teammates took a knee at our game I would tell him to get up or get off the field.”
Grant Smith and Ethan Van Buskirk both agreed and said, “I wouldn’t like it because it would take away from the team and focus more on one person.”
Coach McNamee only had great things to say about his boys, but when asked about the protests he thought about all the teams in the NFL.
“The teams had to decide for itself, all 32 of them, and they all had a reaction,” McNamee said. “The NFL has an influence on all our players and sometimes you can’t help but join in or do it.”
Athletes both past and present have chosen to sit or kneel during the Star Spangled Banner. However, there hasn’t been a team that has chosen to not come out during the anthem. The public continues to have mixed reactions to the protests, and the issue of patriotism versus political message is still very present on football Sundays.