By now you’ve seen the photo. The iconic photo. One lone Army Ranger veteran defying his team to salute the flag during the Star-Spangled Banner.
Villanueva served three tours of combat duty as an Army Ranger. He’s authorized to wear the Bronze Star. He stood for his country. In Afghanistan with the Army and in Pittsburgh alone.
But Villanueva made a big mistake.
Today, Villanueva apologized for standing with hand on heart for the national anthem. He apologized to his teammates. That was Villanueva’s mistake.
Never apologize for doing what’s right.
Villanueva says he inadvertently threw his teammates “under the bus.” By standing for our national anthem, Villanueva fears, “I made my teammates look bad.”
No, Al. You didn’t make your teammates look bad. Your teammates made your teammates look bad.
You, Al, did not throw your teammates under the bus. Your teammates threw you under the bus. Your teammates threw your fellow veterans under the bus. Your teammates threw your country under the bus.
You, Al, owe none of your teammates an apology. Your teammates owe you an apology. Your teammates owe their country an apology.
You are the only player on the Pittsburgh Steelers who earned respect. The rest of your team and your coach deserve scorn.
Stand tall, Al. You did the right thing. Don’t let those bastards get you down.
Also published on Medium.