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Tag Archives: Alejandro Villanueva

Alejandro Villanueva Should Not Apologize

As a lot of people do, I have strong feelings about the whole “taking a knee” phenomenon going on in the NFL.  Started by Colin Kaepernick during the pre-season last year, it initially started as him sitting during the National Anthem.  He drew no attention to his actions, made no public statement, did nothing at all until somebody asked.

And all hell broke loose.

It makes no difference to me the political reasons for standing, sitting, kneeling, or napping during the National Anthem, I believe that peaceful protest is a fundamental part of the character of our nation. And each of us have the right to do so. There is no symbol that is greater than that right.

You all probably know what has happened in the last few days.  Trump tweeted. (I know, I was shocked too.) Trump’s tweet made things worse instead of better. (I know, I was shocked too.) And an uproar ensued. (I know, I was shocked too.)

The Pittsburgh Steelers was one of several teams that decided to remain in the locker room during the National Anthem. They described it as the best way to stay unified as a team and remove themselves from what had essentially become a political powder keg. I’m not sure that really makes sense, but okay. (Side note — I’m a lifelong Steelers fan, so accept that for whatever bias you want here.)

There was one exception to the Steelers’ decision. Alejandro Villaneuva, a graduate of U.S. Military Academy, played football for Army, served as an Army Ranger including three tours in Afghanistan. While the rest of his team stayed in the locker room, Villaneuva stood just outside the tunnel and held his hand over his heart during the National Anthem.

His coach expressed dismay at this, and today he has apologized for making his coach and teammates look bad.

No.

He didn’t make his teammates look bad.

Alejandro Villaneuva did the exact same thing his teammates and many others have demanded they have the right to do — to respond to the National Anthem as they see fit. Whether in “respect” for it, or as a means of protesting a larger issue.

There is nothing wrong with what Villanueva did and his decision should be respected and admired, just as much as those of us who support Kaepernick and the other protesters believe their actions should be respected.

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