PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers lineman Alejandro Villanueva says the national anthem ordeal got out of control and he is taking the blame, CBS Pittsburgh reports.
"Unfortunately I threw my teammates under the bus, unintentionally," Villanueva said. "Every single time I see that picture of me standing by myself I feel embarrassed."
Villanueva was the only Steelers player standing outside the tunnel for the national anthem before their game Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
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Villanueva says he asked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger if he could be out in front with the captains during the national anthem and they agreed to it, but when he went to the front of the tunnel to see the flag, he went too far unintentionally.
"When we came out of the locker room into that tunnel, it was a very small area. There was a flag or something coming off the field so there were a bunch of Bears fans, coming off the field holding that going in front of us, so it kind of held us up," Villanueva said.
The rest of the team remained in the tunnel. "I made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault, and my fault only," Villanueva said. "We as a team tried to figure it out, but obviously butchered it."
The former Army Ranger says he is absolutely okay if teammates kneel or sit during the national anthem.
"People that are taking a knee are not saying anything negative about the military, they're not saying anything negative about the flag, they're just trying to protest that there are some injustices in America," Villanueva said.
He says some players who have been kneeling during anthems have even approached him before or after games and thanked him for his service including other players in the NFC North.
Sales of Villanueva's jerseys have skyrocketed since video of him standing outside the tunnel during the national anthem.
"I unintentionally left my teammates behind. I wasn't planning to boycott the plan the Steelers came up with," Villanueva said.
"For anybody who thinks Coach Tomlin is not as patriotic as you can get in America, or any one of my teammates, or the owner, I take offense to that," Villanueva said. "I made coach Tomlin look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only," he said.
When asked about if he thought President Trump should apologize for calling NFL players names or drawing the players into this he said.
"I don't have anything to say about the commander in chief and his decisions, I stick to football, I have nothing to comment about what the president says," Villanueva said.
"I will support all my teammates, and all my teammates and all of my coaches have always supported me," he said.
"Every single one of my teammates is extremely supportive and extremely patriotic. I can honestly say that," Villanueva said.