As the third Sunday in the 2017-2018 NFL season dawned, players and coaches, owners and fans, politicians and the media wondered what would happen when the teams took the field in a dozen cities around the nation.

The year-long debate about NFL players refusing to stand during the traditional playing of the national anthem prior to the start of games as a way of protesting what they see as a racial oppression against minorities was escalated after comments by President Trump when he said he believed owners should tell any player choosing to take a knee “You’re fired!” using his trademark phrase from his hit television reality program.

Players responded by accusing Trump of being “divisive” while owners and coaches met to decide how best to address the issue before the Sunday games.

While in most cases, the players were joined in sideline displays of unity with owners, the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to stay in the locker room at Soldier Field in Chicago where they were the guests until the end of the national anthem.

Coach Mike Tomlin said it was a way to avoid forcing players to make a decision, but in fact, all the locker room option did was allow players to avoid making their own personal opinion public.

So, as The Star-Spangled Banner played and Chicagoans stood in the stands and the Pittsburgh Steelers remained in the “Guest” locker room, a solitary figure in Steeler yellow and white stood at the entrance of the tunnel with his hand on his heart.

Offensive tackle, Alejandro Villanueva – a 29-year-old graduate of West Point, a former Army Ranger who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan where he earned two Bronze Stars, stood for the anthem of the nation he had served.

At the conclusion of the anthem, the rest of the team was booed as it ran onto the field.

A game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens was played in London as the league continues to try to sell the sport to an audience that thinks of soccer as football – and probably always will.

About two-dozen players knelt in protest during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner, but stood during God Save the Queen, the national anthem of Great Britain.

Do you believe that players who refuse to stand for The Star-Spangled Banner show disrespect to the men and women who have served the country in the armed forces?

Source: Mediate

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