The Pittsburgh Steelers remained in the locker room during the national anthem at Soldier Field before kicking off their road game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Well, everyone except for Alejandro Villanueva. While his teammates were in the locker room, the Steelers' offensive lineman stood just outside the tunnel and observed the national anthem by himself. The photograph of him standing with his right hand over his heart just outside of the tunnel went viral.
But on Monday, Villanueva, a former Army Ranger who toured Afghanistan, told reporters that he "unintentionally" walked out of the tunnel and in doing so, "threw my teammates under the bus."
"Unfortunately, I threw them under the bus unintentionally," the 29-year-old said, as transcribed by ESPN, additionally stating, "unwillingly, I made a mistake."
He added: "It's completely wrong and every single time I see that picture of me standing by myself I feel embarrassed to a degree, because like I said, unintentionally I left my teammates behind. It wasn't me stepping forward. I never planned to boycott the plan that the Steelers came up with. I just thought that there would be some middle ground where I could stay in the tunnel, nobody would see me, and then afterward I just wouldn't talk to the media, like I do all the time."
To watch Villanueva's full comments yesterday, click the video below.
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(Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)