Pittsburgh Steelers

Mayor, players respond to Steelers' decision to not participate in national anthem

CHICAGO — UPDATE (11 p.m.) Mayor Bill Peduto is commenting on Sunday's decision by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Peduto told the New York Times he supported the Steelers decision and that he planned to hold discussions with people in Pittsburgh who feel personally wounded by the controversy. "There are two distinct sides that need to have a conversation, not a president who chooses sides," Peduto said.

The Bears stunned the Steelers in Chicago Sunday afternoon, but perhaps more stunning was the Steelers remaining inside the locker room during the national anthem.

The team says it was done as a way to protect players from tough spots: a statement was made and the Steelers are in the national spotlight.


"We will not be divided by this," Coach Mike Tomlin said. "We got a group of men in there from different socioeconomic backgrounds, race, creed, ethnicities and religions and so forth. That's football. That's a lot of team sports, but because of our position we get drug into bulls--- to be quite honest with you."

"One person to call shame on multiple people to say we should lose our jobs because we care, that's just not right," defensive lineman Cam Heyward added.

"When we're in front of the media, we're supposed to present ourselves in a certain way, talk in a certain way and with the way things are going. We don't feel like the President is doing the same as far as respect, it's very unprofessional," cornerback Joe Haden said.

Alejandro Villanueva made a statement of his own, but declined to talk after the game. His teammates understood why.

"The things he's done, he's lost guys in battle, when we're playing a game, this guy has lost guys in battle," offensive lineman David Decastro said. "I wish humans could see the bigger picture sometimes, but we just got a lot going in this country so it's a tough time right now and hopefully we'll make some progress in some fashion."

UPDATE (6 p.m.) The Pittsburgh Steelers participated in a response to the comments made by President Trump, and it was quite an internal debate on how to do it.

The Steelers decided to stay in the locker room during the national anthem, not as a political statement but to avoid putting players in tough spots. Many of the players Channel 11 spoke with said they felt forced into this decision -- which they say was made as a unit.

Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, was the only player to be visible during the anthem.

He was at the end of the tunnel the team came out.

UPDATE (1:25 p.m.) Head coach Mike Tomlin stood on the sideline surrounded by a few other members of the staff, while all but one of the players on the Pittsburgh Steelers remained in the tunnel during the national anthem before the team's game against the Chicago Bears.

Offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva stood just outside the tunnel in front of his teammates with his hand over his heart.

Villanueva is a U.S. Army veteran, having served three tours of duty in Afghanistan.

The rest of the Steelers stood in the tunnel while the national anthem played. When they jogged onto the field, they were met with a heavy dose of boos from the crowd.

Steelers chairman Art Rooney II released a statement regarding his team's decision to not participate in the national anthem.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will not be participating in the national anthem before Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

Head coach Mike Tomlin announced the Steelers will be staying in the locker room during the anthem Sunday.