The worst part of any conflict, whether it’s war, a divorce, or simply a debate, is that good people get hurt and put in awful positions. Due to the utter insanity that the NFL has become, Alejandro Villanueva now finds himself in that position.
The Steelers, thankfully, reversed course on Sunday after last week’s disastrous decision to remain in the tunnel for the playing of the national anthem. Villanueva, famously, was the only Steeler to emerge from the tunnel last week, and became the only player in black and yellow to observe the anthem.
An incident which, he claims, was an accident.
This week, the Steelers all joined Villanueva on the sideline for the anthem. However, Villanueva still has issue with those who, he says, used his appearance on the sideline as a tool to drive a political agenda. In addition to using his apparent act of defiance, as an excuse to launch an attack on his head coach Mike Tomlin.
Villanueva said, “To use me as a tool to push agendas and push messages is completely unacceptable. I love my teammates, I love Coach Tomlin, I love this organization and I love coming to work.”
First of all, the only reason why anyone wrote anything critical of Mike Tomlin, is because Tomlin threw Villanueva under the bus by saying the Steelers were more important than America. Mind you, Tomlin did this before Villanueva announced that his appearance on the sideline was an accident. So, for all any of us knew, Mike Tomlin had just publicly shamed a brave veteran for simply respecting the flag he risked his life to defend. Had Tomlin kept his mouth shut and not said anything until Villanueva had a chance to clear the air, then it’s likely he would have escaped with minimal public scorn.
When it comes to the anthem, there are only two agendas: respect for the anthem, and disrespect for the anthem. No one ever used Villanueva as a tool to argue for the border wall, a lower top tax bracket, or getting rid of the minimum wage. The only agenda he seemed to fit, before he said his appearance on the sideline was an error, was respect for the anthem. It’s beyond insane that respect for the anthem is considered an “agenda,” but that’s 2017 for you. If celebrating people who respect the anthem is an agenda, then I am as guilty as anyone, and will happily surrender my laptop and allow myself to be led away to anthem prison.
The other thing that has to be addressed here is Villanueva himself. While, given Villanueva’s proud record of service, any of us can fully understand his desire to support his team and stand united. He has to understand, that the Steelers electing to no-show the anthem is also part of an agenda. It’s part of the leftist agenda which seeks to enhance and intensify any outward sign of disrespect or disinterest in the anthem. Until the entire tradition itself is rendered quaint, old-fashioned, useless, jingoistic, obsolete, and ultimately done away with.
Of course Villanueva doesn’t see what the Steelers did in that light, but nonetheless, that’s the result even if it’s not the intent.
The other part of the problem is the sports media. The lead-in question that led to Villanueva’s response, isn’t included in the quotes. Though, one must find it curious how the media manages to get a quote from Villanueva, which serves to thwart any attempt from those on the right to use him to push an agenda. Yet, over the last year-and-a-half, has suspiciously never produced a single quote from Michael Bennett, Marshawn Lynch, Brandon Marshall, Eric Reid, or any other anthem protester, which would thwart any attempt from those on the left to push an agenda.
Certainly the media could frame a question to the anthem protesters the same way they could to Villanueva, and get a similar response. Is it because the media agrees with the politics of Eric Reid and Michael Bennett? And they don’t agree with the politics of Alejandro Villanueva, who was very critical of Kaepernick and his protests when they began last year? Is that why they feel it necessary to ensure that conservatives don’t weaponize Villanueva’s stand, and use it for maximum political advantage?
For the record, I couldn’t care less about using Villanueva as a political tool. We can, and I would argue, have, already defeated the anthem demonstrators without having to resort to such tactics. Instead, the most powerful emotion I’m left with when it comes to Villanueva, is sadness. Sadness that a brave and heroic man who risked his life to defend our country overseas, has to return home and justify why he stood for the anthem.
That, is our great shame.