The Pittsburgh Steelers player who was the only member of the team to stand publicly during the national anthem on Sunday said he didn’t intend to break from his teammates and now feels “embarrassed.”
“Unfortunately, I threw my teammates under the bus, unintentionally,” Alejandro Villanueva, an Army veteran, said at a press conference on Monday, according to CBS Pittsburgh. “Every single time I see that picture of me, standing by myself, I feel embarrassed.”
The rest of the team stayed off the field during the national anthem because head coach Mike Tomlin said he did not want players to feel forced to take sides after President Trump called for players to be fired for kneeling during the anthem to protest racism. Villanueva stood alone near the tunnel with his hand over his heart, and on Monday, his jersey became the top-selling jersey in the NFL.
“I made coach Tomlin look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only,” he said, adding that he is supportive of teammates who decide to kneel or sit during the national anthem.
“People that are taking a knee are not saying anything negative about the military, they’re not saying anything negative about the flag, they’re just trying to protest that there are some injustices in America,” he said, according to CBS Pittsburgh.