Foster Says Villanueva Had “Special Clearance” To Participate In Anthem

Be prepared to read a lot about Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva this week due to him participating in Sunday’s national anthem while the rest of his teammates chose to stay in the tunnel. While the team reportedly voted as a group to not participate in Sunday’s anthem Saturday night during a team meeting, it appears as though Villanueva was told he could.

According to Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday, Steelers guard Ramon Foster said Villanueva had “special clearance” to come out of the tunnel for the anthem while his teammates waited in the tunnel.

During his post-game press conference following the loss to the Chicago Bears, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t sound like he knew about Villanueva receiving any kind of special clearance.

“Like I said, I was looking for a hundred percent participation. We’re going to be respectful of our football team,” Tomlin said when asked about Villanueva being the team’s sole participant in observing the national anthem.

Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison also made it sound after the game that he had no idea Villanueva would be outside the tunnel by himself.

“We thought we were all in attention with the same agreement, obviously. But, I guess we weren’t,” Harrison said after the game, according to Jacob Klinger of

The Steelers players had another closed-door meeting on Monday and are expected to meet the media when it’s over. It will be interesting to hear if Villanueva has anything to say about his Sunday actions and if indeed his teammates, or at least the team leaders, told him they were fine with him participating in the anthem on Sunday ahead of time.

You can also count on Tomlin to be asked more about the topic during his weekly Tuesday press conference.

  • RevDrEBuzz

    Steelers PR getting into gear. Rest assured every word on this is designed for effect.

    Here’s leadership. Football is so much fakery.

    “Help me, sir,” Dietrich cried to Villanueva. “He was pretty scared,” Villanueva said. “He kept asking for help.”

    By the time Villanueva lifted Dietrich onto the helicopter, his eyes were purple. He died a short time later. “As the platoon leader, I feel responsible for everything my platoon does or fails to do,” Villanueva said. “I failed to keep Jesse Dietrich safe, and you know, it was just tough. … I keep thinking of other ways I would have done it, but it was a very tough mission and the enemy beat us that day. It was just a really bad night.”

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    In other words….FAIL.

  • nutty32

    LoL – the dude went to combat for our country when called upon. He can do whatever he wants during the anthem. Seems like a no brainer to me. Who would get mad at this?

  • Av232

    What about his hand, Poni? What about his hand?!

  • Big White

    AV doesn’t need “Special Clearance” from anyone, team has no right to limit his free speech. BS rules cooked up an hour before the game because no one with the Steelers has a backbone. Gutless Sheep the Steelers.


    man i was so f’ing tired of protests and
    “if you are not with us, you are against us”
    attitude from PC warriors when i was in college.

    Now, do i really have to see this crap all year in football and basketball?

  • WreckIess

    You’re telling me that teams have no right to limit their players first amendment rights? How can that be? They have them on their payroll?

  • NinjaMountie

    As long as you believe the team has no right to limit free speech when it comes to players protesting, I’m with you.

  • WreckIess

    You don’t have to. You can easily not watch the first 5 minutes before a game. That’s really not that hard.

  • srdan

    free speech only applies to criminal prosecution. Not your paycheck

  • SportsBall Is My Life

    In CLOWNWORLD you need ‘special clearance’ to honor your country’s flag.

    I want off this ride and I know I aint the only one

  • Big White

    Tell that to the Anthem Crashers, you hypocrite. Tell that to Kaep and the rest of the anarchists. If they get their free speech, then AV gets his. If you don’t like it, too bad.

  • RW

    If the team told them not to take a knee, and they did, they’d in violation just the same as AV was. Not saying whats right v wrong, but come on man, use your brain.

  • Big White

    The team cannot limit free speech here and let it go there. Common sense, dude.

  • T3xassteelers

    Can we focus on the you know.. the GAME at hand rather than a stupid protest?

  • RW

    Yes, actually they can. It might not seem right to you, but they absolutely can and it’d be 100% legal.

  • Big White

    Gotta be consistent both ways. If the fans want to boo the protesters next week that would be their right too. The players totally opened themselves up for this one. Walked right into it.

  • Big White

    93.7 FAN been crucial on AV the whole afternoon, not one bit of criticism toward Tomlin or Rooneys.

  • LucasY59

    and that makes it more of a mistake by the rest of the team than it does to AV, I dont want to make it seem like one player is more important than the rest, but in respect to Al and his past I would hope his teammates would stand with him

  • Jonathan Bell

    Consistency is such a rare commodity. If we are to champion ultimate responsibility to one’s individual conscience, principles, ethics for one person, we must for all people, regardless of where we lie on the political “spectrum”. I am convinced Kaepernick would have taken his public stance regardless of any team “agreement” or “pact” to project unity (had there been one).
    Kaepernick expressed himself. The chips land land where they land. The fallout is not always fair. This is the inherent risk of being true to oneself. Although my personal opinion is that the national anthem is not the appropriate forum for protest (because, besides the dishonoring of those who serve argument, what we pledge allegiance to are a set of IDEALS of equality and justice for all, not the lack of fulfillment of them in reality), I acknowledge and respect Kaepernick’s right to freedom of expression.
    Likewise, Villanueva followed his conscience. It’s a risk he has taken. The fallout will be what it is.
    Either way, how “bad a look” it is for either player (or team) to publicly honor his own individual conscience is ENTIRELY SUBJECTIVE and no doubt depends on one’s politics and “values”. Though obviously critical to maintain, let’s not make a fetish out of preserving team unity and in doing so fall prey to selective reasoning.

  • LucasY59

    I wish, and the worst part is that the protest still isnt affecting anything, its all talk and distraction, which is why I wish they had found a different way to protest from the start

  • srdan

    That is what you aren’t understanding. Yes they can. It’s not fair or just, but it is their decision.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Yea, it makes you wonder if they even knew that he was going to be out there by himself. I have no problem with what he did, but it just makes the rest of the team look bad. As far as the media is concerned the narrative will be, “Steelers think they are too good to show for the anthem,” while presenting AV as the hero that alone stood against that supposed agenda. Intentions don’t matter at that point, that’s what the story is going to be.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    I meant a bad look for the team, not AV. I just think there was a miscommunication somewhere. Can’t say you’re going to do something as a team and then not do it as a team. That’s the only thing that bothered me.

  • WilliamSekinger

    That’s pretty ignorant. Only in today’s world can a former US Army Ranger get criticized for saluting his country’s flag. Not sure when football became more important than country, but whatever.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Al V, An Army of 1. I salute him!

  • WilliamSekinger

    Actually NFL rules stipulate that NFL players must be on the sidelines facing the flag etc. The exact opposite of what took place Sunday. If it went to court, AV would be on pretty firm legal ground.

  • RMSteeler

    I hope he had the clearance. I hope that not everyone got that message based on some responses.

  • srdan

    You may be right on that one point, i’m not specifically sure about it. But in general my statement still stands.

    And it’s the steelers that could cut him tomorrow for not cutting his toenails, let alone saying something or doing something. Nothing keeping the browns from picking him up.

  • Chad H

    This is my most favorite post.
    Because he is a true American badass hero he doesn’t need the teams “special clearance” to stand.

  • Mr jack

    The team did the correct thing and I stand by their actions!

  • RMSteeler

    If the team leaders had said he couldn’t go out, I bet he would have anyway. And no one would have stopped him.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Absolutely, and the other NFL owners may just as easily cut everyone that that didn’t stand for the national anthem.

  • T3xassteelers

    Agreed 100%. Focus on your jobs!!

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    The NFL, if not careful, is going to kill the Golden Goose. Right or wrong 60 M voted for DJT. If 25% boycott…that is an a$$ load of loot/revenue which will affect the salary cap which will affect the wallet.

  • Ravens Team Gynecologist

    And now they can’t keep the story straight. The only conversation this anthem protest creates is whether or not the anthem should be protested and not whatever injustice that is supposed to be the aim.

  • lyke skywalker

    Brought to you by Verizon.

  • mezzetin1

    That is the point. Thank you and the president for pointing it out. This will only accelerate the decline in viewership. Thought these bitch owners only cared about their bottom line.

  • mezzetin1

    That’s a killer!

  • Katie

    This is sickening and pathetic. You need special clearance to respect America and veterans on Soldier Field.

  • Russell Stauver

    I’m disgusted by the Steeler’s locker room stance against racism. I’m totally against racism, but what in the world does the racial divide in our country have to do with our national anthem is beyond my comprehension. I served 24 years in defense of our freedoms and these sport stars take everything for granted except their own condition. I had thought the Rooney family was above this sort of thing. I’m sure I’m not alone among the fan base when I suggest severing Mike Tomlin’s head for injecting politics into teams agenda.

  • Black Gold

    That would be amazing to go to games without any DJT supporters. If that happened I might have to get season tickets!

  • Matthew Marczi

    According to Villanueva, they didn’t know, and he didn’t even realize how far out he’d walked. He only talked to a couple of the guys in team leadership about being up front, and the rest didn’t even know that part.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    I heard a couple of responses to the NFL “Free Speech” defense…A player was fined for writing a 9/11/01 Always remember on his shoe. Also , the NFL wouldn’t allow the Cowboys to wear a sticker saluting the 5 police officers ambushed down there on the helmets. Just 2 points highlight the hipocracy.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Your prerogative BG. Is this a great country or what?

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Russell, Thanks for the service. Although we may disagree (I support standing btw), I actually believe Mike T was trying to remove politics from the situation and have the team put on a unified stance. I think when he told the team they needed to have a 100% consensus he knew where one player would land…Al V. It backfired horribley but that is what I believe. Per usual he overthink it.

  • Rocksolid20

    The standard is the standard .

  • will

    Just like “Black Gold” the Rooneys are on the left politically.
    Can we please get back to discussing football?

  • Black Gold

    As Steeler fans, we are all the beneficiaries of the type of people the Rooney’s are and the values they embody. Art I long ago laid down the ‘Steeler Way’ by interacting with and treating his players with respect, treating them fairly in regard to pay and contract negotiations, honoring handshake promises, giving them the benefit of the doubt when they faced controversy, and being there for them in a humanitarian sense whenever hardship arose, either emotionally or financially. The Steelers have always been pioneers in the NFL regarding black player issues, including featuring Joe Gilliam as a QB in the early 70’s, the ‘Rooney Rule,’ and the hiring of Mike Tomlin.

    This ethos continues today, and it significantly contributes to the sustained and consistent success we have as a team, year after year. Players want to stay here, easily willing to take a modest hometown discount in order to do so. Players who leave want to return here, once they see what it’s like to play for other teams: e.g Harrison, Gay, DJohnson, Spaeth, McFadden, etc.(possibly Timmons?) Players who leave usually do so on good terms because the Steelers treat them fairly, and they know it. They are aware of the possibility to return, if circumstances warrant. Players want to come here, like Joe Haden, because they know they will become part of a culture that is fundamentally respectful to the players, and treats them above all else as individuals and human beings. And people around the world have become fans of this team, specifically because of this philosophical and human-oriented ethic. So my thanks goes to the Rooney’s for providing us all with an example of what we should strive to be as individuals, and how we should behave toward each other with decency.

  • will

    Agree totally! Well said!

  • j Sw.

    Since when does someone need special clearance to stand and honor The Nations Flag…

    If there was no one on the team that was going to kneel, then they would have no reason to be no shows. By being no shows, it intimates some wanted to kneel and bullied the ones who wanted to stand to remain inside.

    It tells me the entire steeler team has no conviction for their beliefs good or bad.