Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle and former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva (78) stands outside the tunnel alone during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Alejandro Villanueva is an American hero.
He's a West Point graduate — a former Army Ranger — served three tours of duty in Afghanistan. He is the recipient of the Bronze Star medal for valor and the Bronze Star medal for overseas service.
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He also plays football for the Pittsburgh Steelers — an offensive tackle.
Over the weekend, the Steelers decided they would remain inside the locker room during the National Anthem.
"People shouldn't have to choose," Coach Mike Tomlin told CBS Sports. "If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn't be forced to choose sides."
Apparently, the players were so fearful of being triggered by American patriotism they chose to sequester themselves inside a designated safe space.
And on Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago, the Steelers were conspicuously absent as tens of thousands of football fans rose to their feet to honor America and our brave fighting men and women.
"We will not be divided by this," Tomlin told the Post-Gazette. We've got a group of men in there that come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, races, creeds, ethnicities, (and) religions."
Every single member of the Pittsburgh Steelers hid in the locker room — except for one.
The war veteran disobeyed the coach's directive and walked out onto the field where he stood – alone.
He placed his hand over his heart to honor the country he loves – and in doing so he stood in defiance of the National Football League.
He did what any patriot would've done. He did what any veteran would've done.
But instead of honoring Villanueva's decision, the head coach rebuked the decorated war veteran.
"Like I said, I was looking for 100 percent participation," Tomlin told reporters at a post-game press conference. "We were gonna be respectful of our football team."
Villanueva had a choice: either respect the football team or respect America. He chose America.
I salute and honor Alejandro Villanueva. He demonstrated on Sunday that in the National Football League he is a man among boys, a hero among cowards.
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary. His latest book is “The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again.” Follow him on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.