The Pittsburgh Steelers — mostly — opted not to participate in the national anthem prior to Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears.
Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger and graduate of West Point, visibly stood outside the tunnel at Soldier Field with his hand over his heart during The Star-Spangled Banner while his teammates remained under cover inside the stadium.
Several Steelers coaches, including head coach Mike Tomlin, stood on the Pittsburgh sideline at attention during the anthem while the Bears stood arm in arm on their side of the field.
Tomlin told CBS Sports' Jamie Erdahl prior to kickoff that his team wouldn't be taking the field for the anthem.
After President Trump repeatedly spoke out in the last three days on players' protests, Tomlin said he didn't want players to feel like they had to take a side in a public display.
"We're not going to play politics. We're football players, we're football coaches," Tomlin said. "We're not participating in the anthem today - not to be disrespectful to the anthem, but to remove ourselves from the circumstance.
"People shouldn't have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn't be forced to choose sides. If a guy feels the need to do something, he shouldn't be separated from his teammate who chooses not to."
The decision comes after President Trump repeatedly called for owners and the NFL to take action against players who choose not to stand during the national anthem.
At a rally in Alabama on Friday, Trump said: "Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired!"
After calling out NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Saturday for his response to the comments, Trump said on Twitter Sunday that players who protested should be fined or suspended.
Steelers owner Art Rooney II said in a statement Saturday that he would not add to Goodell's statement, which called Trump's remarks "divisive."
If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
...NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
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