Many members of the Pittsburgh Steelers were surprised when left tackle Alejandro Villanueva appeared during the national anthem while the rest of the team stayed in the tunnel, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports.
During a players-only meeting Saturday, the Steelers agreed they would stay in the locker room during the anthem to avoid isolating any players, according to Fowler. Villanueva, a former Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan, said during the meeting that he didn't want to be singled out by any action the team decided on, according to Fowler.
Defensive end Cam Hayward and guard David DeCastro both pointed to Villanueva's service as something that might give the anthem a different meaning to him, and said they were fine with his choice to leave the tunnel.
Still, other players said they were confused to see Villanueva step out of the tunnel for the anthem.
"We thought we were all in attention with the same agreement, obviously," James Harrison told PennLive.com. "But I guess we weren't."
Villanueva was not available after the game and has not commented on the situation.