Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger expressed regret after his team decided to remain in the tunnel during the national anthem before Sunday's game in Chicago.
The entire Steelers team remained in the tunnel with the exception of offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, a veteran who stood and placed his hand over his heart during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. The decision to stay in the tunnel was collectively made by the team, coach Mike Tomlin said, and a number of players were surprised by Villanueva's decision, according to ESPN.
"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," Roethlisberger wrote on his Facebook page. "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 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 pursuit 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. -- Ben."