In Chicago, the Bears linked arms on the sidelines, while the vast majority of Steelers players abandoned them entirely as the national anthem played prior to their 1 p.m. game at Soldier Field.
Pittsburgh Head Coach Mike Tomlin and several members of his Steelers staff stood at attention at the 50-yard line, while left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan, stood just outside the locker room tunnel, hand over his heart, singing along. The rest of the Steelers roster remained inside the tunnel.
Prior to the game Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin announced the team’s intentions to CBS reporter Jamie Erdahl.
“We’re chasing something special here in 2017 and we’re not going to play politics,” Tomlin said. “We’re football players. We’re football coaches. We’re not participating in the anthem today. Not to be disrespectful to the anthem, but to remove ourselves from the circumstance.
“People shouldn’t have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn’t have to be forced to choose sides. If a guy feels the need to do something, he shouldn’t be separated from his teammate who chooses not to. So we’re not participating today. That’s our decision. We’re going to be 100 percent. We came here to play a football game. That’s our intent.”
League rules require teams to participate in the national anthem or face penalties including a fine, suspension or loss of a draft pick. A league official told The Post’s Mark Maske the key word in the rule is “may,” adding he won’t speculate on whether the Steelers would be disciplined.