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Americans Like This Guy: During NFL Anthem Protests, an Ex-Army Ranger Stands Tall


You may have seen the photo by now. While the Pittsburgh Steelers stayed in the locker room, completely bypassing the national anthem, one player emerged into the stadium.

It was Alejandro Villanueva who proudly wore the American flag on his military uniform during three tours in Afghanistan as an Army Ranger.

He stood alone at Soldier Field, emerging as the national anthem rang out, while the rest of his team stood in a dark tunnel behind him.

Now Villanueva's NFL jersey has become an overnight best-seller. In fact, it's become the top-selling jersey in the entire NFL.

The massive left tackle and West Point graduate says he has no interest in becoming a symbol in this fight. But that's just what he has become, and football fans are showing their support with big cash.

Before Sunday's game, Villanueva was not a household name. But now sales for No. 78 are standing head and shoulders above all the big stars of the NFL.

Villanueva says he meant to stand with his team in the tunnel, but he just wanted to get a look at the flag. And when the anthem started up, he just did what he's done his entire life: he stopped and put his right hand over his heart.

"It wasn't me stepping forward. I never planned to boycott the plan that the Steelers came up with. I just thought there would be some middle ground where I could stand in the tunnel, nobody would see me," he said.

Meanwhile, the protests continue in the wake of President Trump's weekend critique of players who kneel in protest over racial inequality during the national anthem.

Monday night, the Dallas Cowboys team, along with their coaches and their owner Jerry Jones, locked arms and knelt together in protest. But they then chose to stand during the anthem.


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