Steelers stay in Locker Room: Outrage ensues in Western PA


On September 24th, 2017 the Pittsburgh Steelers made a divisive move that shook the entire NFL. Before losing to the Chicago Bears at Chicago, they decided to stay inside the locker room for the national anthem. The move was not announced until 30 minutes before the game. The Steelers waited in the tunnel, sans one member pictured above. This man is Alejandro Villanueva, who served in the U.S. military. He has stated that he did not mean to isolate his teammates but thought the captains of the team would be joining him out on the field. Ben Roethlisberger said that he and the other captains meant to join Villanueva in the tunnel but were caught up in the media traffic in the tunnel.

Mike Tomlin said in an interview after the game that the team staying in the locker room was not about politics, it was about the team being united as a whole. Most Steeler fans are outraged about the protest. Many were conflicted with the team because they do believe the team was being unpatriotic, but they have grown up watching the Steelers and love the team. People even have blamed the loss the Steelers suffered to the Bears was because they were too focused on the protest before the game. A fire chief in Pittsburgh called Mike Tomlin a racial slur in the aftermath of the the game on a Facebook post. He resigned shortly after due the extreme backlash from his township. Mike Tomlin has not commented on this man’s words. The fire chief has said that his statement was made out of anger and he was rash to post it on Facebook. A man who lived close to the fire hall said he was disgusted that a man could say such hateful things over a protest before a football game.

The Steelers should be allowed to stay in the locker room. They were not doing it for politics; they were doing it to stay united as a team. This should not be punished by the NFL or by anyone. Some news stations were saying that Mike Tomlin berated Villanueva, but that is not true. The captains were supposed to go out in the tunnel with him, but they got cut off by the media. I believe the Steelers did the right thing in trying to stay out of it.

I can also understand the critics’ point of view that the Steelers are disrespecting the flag and are being unpatriotic. While it does look to many that the Steelers are disrespectful, I believe they are not trying to be unpatriotic.   I believe the team went the best route for the short period of time.   They had to come up with a way to stay out of it.  It seemed disorganized, and I believe they could have come up with a better way given time, but President Trump made his comments on Friday, only giving them two days to decide. All in all, I think the Steelers did the right thing.