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.