Roethlisberger said he "was unable to sleep" after the Steelers decided to remain in the locker room during the national anthem on Sunday.
The Steelers opted to remain in the tunnel during the national anthem before Sunday's game against the Bears, a move coach Mike Tomlin said was meant to convey unity rather than disrespect for the anthem.
Ben Roethlisberger released a statement on Monday, saying he wishes his team approached the situation differently.
I was unable to sleep last night and want to share my thoughts and feelings on our team's decision to remain in the tunnel for the National Anthem yesterday. The idea was to be unified as a team when so much attention is paid to things dividing our country, but I wish we approached it differently. We did not want to appear divided on the sideline with some standing and some kneeling or sitting.
As a team, it was not a protest of the flag or the Anthem. I personally don't believe the Anthem is ever the time to make any type of protest. For me, and many others on my team and around the league, it is a tribute to those who commit to serve and protect our country, current and past, especially the ones that have made the ultimate sacrifice.
I appreciate the unique diversity in my team and throughout the league and completely support the call for social change and the pusuit of true equality. Moving forward, I hope standing for the Anthem shows solidarity as a nation, that we stand united in respect for the people on the front lines protecting our freedom and keeping us safe. God bless those men and women.
Alejandro Villanueva, the Steelers' left tackle who was an Army ranger and served in Afghanistan, was the lone Steelers to appear during the national anthem. He stood visible, just outside the tunnel, and placed his hand on his heart. Villanueva's jersey sales skyrocketed after Sunday's game; in fact, no player's merchandise has sold more than Villanueva's (per ESPN's Darren Rovell) since the conclusion of Pittsburgh's 23-17 loss to the Bears.
Protests of many forms were widespread across the NFL on Sunday after Donald Trump said NFL owners should "fire" players who protest and referred to them as a "son of a b----."