Steelers fans upset with team's anthem protest
Many Steelers fans took to social media Sunday and Monday to voice their displeasure with the Steelers' decision to sit out the national anthem Sunday at Soldier Field in Chicago.
As professional sports were roiled by President Donald Trump's comments that the NFL should fire any "son of a bitch" who doesn't stand for the national anthem, the team had voted Saturday to avoid singling out anyone who chose whether or not to protest by staying in the tunnel to the locker room during the anthem. But many fans saw the absence of all but one player on the field — Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva — as an act of protest itself and lashed out at the team, Coach Mike Tomlin and the NFL in general.
I'm sadly done after 65 years of cheering for the Steelers, so sadden by their choice, not what I would expect from the black and gold.— CoachWood (@coachwrw) September 25, 2017
One fan went so far as to post an advertisement on Craigslist selling their personal-seat license ; others pledged to unload their memorabilia or return tickets.
55 year Steeler season ticket holder tried to return my tickets today Steelers refused. Totally disgusted with the Pittsburgh Steelers pic.twitter.com/KO2BkAtvru— Roddy McCullough (@rodjunobeach) September 25, 2017
Some fans said the Steelers players who stood in the team tunnel during the anthem — a move Tomlin said was meant to keep the team out of politics — showed a disrespect for the United States. Matt Drozd, an Air Force veteran and former Allegheny County Councilman, pledged to organize a boycott of the team and its merchandise.
"What does that flag mean? It drapes the coffins of soldiers," Drozd said. "The flag symbolizes more than what the president said... Just because they have a right, doesn't make it right."
Teri Sestilli of Hempfield said she was looking up all the teams with a significant number of players who protested during the anthem and boycotting them. As for the Steelers, she said, she would never watch another game.
"They're not (protesting) independently, they're doing it on the field, in defiance of their employers, their sponsors and their fans," said Sestilli, 64.
This has nothing to do with politics. It is the disrespect of our country.— newkenjoe (@newkenjoe) September 25, 2017
The Nat'l Anthem is bigger than Pres and bigger than athletes. Show respect to those vets who serve and those who served. Stand up 4 America— don (@chili4422) September 25, 2017
I watch sports to get away from politics and religion. Play ball. That's it.— Brian Waggle (@BrianWaggle) September 25, 2017
Facebook fan pages were rife with arguments over the issue, with some shutting down discussions that veered into politics, and others getting comments about the anthem on every play-by-play post.
Yet others called the flap an opportunity to nab hard-to-get game tickets, or for "true fans" of the team to stand by them.•
For the Steeler fans who are boycotting please sell me your season tickets #SteelersNation— BG (@ElToroGrrande) September 25, 2017
Don't want ur Steeler tickets. Prove you care about less fortunate and help. I know poor families in Pgh would like to go to their 1st game— Matt Furjanic Jr. (@MattFurjanicJr) September 25, 2017