Prior to midday Monday, you could count the number of times an offensive lineman was at the top of NFL apparel sales on a closed fist. Now, you have to do it on a finger. Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva gained a lot of attention on social media on Sunday after being the only Steeler player to exit the tunnel and stand for the National Anthem.
The team held a players meeting to discuss their course of action after comments made by President Donald Trump called for the termination of any player who knelt or sat during the National Anthem.
According to an ESPN.com report, Villanueva surged to the top of apparel sales over the last 24-hours, with more Villanueva jerseys and t-shirts being ordered than that of any other NFL player.
Villanueva leads the top five in sales which is rounded out by Tom Brady, Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers. Villanueva is a former Army Ranger who served three tours of duty in Iraq.
The offensive lineman has been supportive of protests against the violence against African Americans in the United States, but has been outspoken of his disapproval to do so during the National Anthem. His decision to exit the tunnel and stand for the National Anthem came as a surprise to his coach and teammates.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said, “I was looking for 100 percent participation. We were gonna be respectful of our football team.”
Other players on the Steelers echoed similar sentiments as the weekend rolled along, meanwhile acknowledging the peculiar position a player like Villanueva finds himself in.
Now the question becomes how long Villanueva will stay at the top of the list, and how will this affect his relationships with his teammate and coach?