As more than a tenth of NFL players were refusing to stand for the national anthem on Sunday in “solidarity” with other anthem kneelers and in “resistance” to President Trump, a few teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, opted to stay in the locker room during the performance of The Star-Spangled Banner. The Steelers’ decision — prompted by head coach Mike Tomlin’s desire to “protect” his players from having to choose how to handle the situation — was complicated when Steeler and former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva defied his coach’s orders and stood at the edge of the tunnel to show respect to the country he’d laid his life on the line to protect.
While the millionaires and billionaires in the NFL have chosen to fully embrace the politically and racially charged anthem protests — which a majority of fans find distasteful — the average Americans who make a living off of the NFL are already feeling some of the impact of that decision. As highlighted by Penn Live, one of those middle class Americans already experiencing some of the blowback from #TakeTheKnee Sunday is Susan Moedinger, owner of Steel City Sports, a Steelers merchandise store.
In an interview with Penn Live, Moedinger describes the strong response her store has already suffered due to the league and the team’s handling of the anti-patriotic anthem movement. On Monday, the day after over 180 players kneeled during the anthem, Moedinger’s store was flooded with calls and social media posts from prior customers declaring that they’d never shop there again. WATCH (h/t PJ Media):
Other businesses are also experiencing backlash over the protests, including DirecTV, which has taken the unprecedented step of offering refunds to NFL package subscribers who are disgusted by the league’s official endorsement of the anti-anthem movement.
After making headlines and selling a lot of jerseys (in fact, his jersey instantly become the top-selling jersey in the NFL), Villanueva eventually apologized for having supposedly thrown his team “under the bus” by his simple display of patriotism.
“I made coach Tomlin look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only. I made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault … only,” he said.
Villanueva’s apology came after Tomlin chided him for breaking with the team on his response by wanting to show honor to his country.