NFL fans looking to outfit themselves in honor of the only Pittsburgh Steeler to take the field for the national anthem ahead of yesterday’s game against the Chicago Bears better hurry: Alejandro Villanueva jerseys are selling out fast and stock is dwindling.
Monday morning, Villanueva’s #78 Steelers jersey was a top seller on Fanatics.com, ranked just below Marshawn Lynch’s #24 Oakland Raiders jersey, but above Aaron Rogers’s #12 Green Bay Pakers sweater. At the time of this article, the jersey is still climbing the charts.
— Dagen McDowell (@dagenmcdowell) September 25, 2017
On NFLShop.com, Villanueva is the third best selling jersey Monday morning, beating out perrennial favorites like Tom Brady.
For some football fans, including radio host Buck Sexton, Villanueva’s jersey was the first ever purchased — but they did so proudly.
— Buck Sexton (@BuckSexton) September 24, 2017
Villanueva, a former U.S. Army Ranger who graduated from West Point and did three tours in Afghanistan, earning the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, stood on the field, hand over heart, during the Star Spangled Banner, as the rest of his team hid in the locker room, ostensibly to avoid controversy.
In an interview after the game, Villanueva said that while he understands that racial inequality is a problem in America, disrespecting the flag disrespects those who fought to preseve it, and does little to address racial issues. There are more effective ways to protest, Villanueva added.
After the game, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin appeared to knock Villanueva, saying that Tomlin expected “100% participation” in the team’s national anthem plan. The swipe only served to galvanize Villanueva’s new fans.