Army Ranger in NFL to Kaepernick: America ‘Providing You $16 Million a Year’

San Francisco 49ers: Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick "even" in QB battle

A Pittsburgh Steelers tackle who served three deployments to Afghanistan questions Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the national anthem.

“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,” Alejandro Villanueva told the press. “It’s his decision. Obviously he has brought up the issue in a great way. But I think if he encourages other players or other people in the stands to sit down, it’s going to send the wrong message.”

The 49ers quarterback sat while others stood during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” Friday night before San Francisco’s loss to the Green Bay Packers. On Sunday he explained that he plans to continue to sit until he sees substantive change in America. Jay Glazer reports that change may come to Santa Clara first.

“Regardless of politics or not, he has a very, very big uphill battle to make this team,” Glazer explained Sunday on Fox. “I’d be shocked if he’s on the 49ers by the time this season ends. It has nothing to do with political views whatsoever. He lost a ton of weight this offseason, had three surgeries, couldn’t work out, lost that double threat, that size-speed ratio. No political views, he just hasn’t been effective. He’s regressing as a player.”

Born on an American naval base and growing up abroad, the six-foot-nine Villanueva played for West Point’s Black Knights. After graduation, he earned a Bronze Star for rescuing wounded soldiers under fire in Afghanistan. He latched on to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014 after several failed attempts to crack NFL rosters and after adding about 80 pounds to his frame. As he protects Ben Roethlisberger’s blindside, Villanueva continues to defend America by serving as a captain in the Army.

“He has to be a little more careful and look at the big picture of the things that he’s doing, because as a service member, I have to understand it,” Villanueva reflected of Kaepernick. “But he’s an athlete, he’s got a huge platform, he has to see the impact he has on other people’s lives.”


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