Steeler Alejandro Villanueva's jersey sales jump after standing for anthem
Online jersey sales for Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva jumped after he was the only player to leave the tunnel and stand on the field during the national anthem Sunday amid league-wide protests.
The former U.S.Army Ranger's jersey was listed as the top seller among more than 10,000 football jersey products sold on NFLShop.com on Monday morning.
Villanueva was the top-selling NFL player over the last 24 hours, with the most jersey, T-shirt and other merchandise sales, said Brandon Williams, director of public relations for Fanatics, which runs NFLshop.com. \Williams did not have specific sales numbers to release, but said Villanueva had outsold Tom Brady, Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers over the same 24-hour period.
Players throughout the NFL on Sunday kneeled, linked arms or put their hands on kneeling teammates as a sign of protest after President Donald Trump's remarks suggesting the league should fire any “son of a b----” who doesn't stand during the anthem.
Former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick had started kneeling last season in protest of racism and the killing of unarmed black men by police, but he has not been picked up by any teams in free agency this season.
Villanueva, a veteran of multiple terms in Afghanistan, surprised his teammates , who had agreed Saturday not to single out any players by remaining in their locker room during the anthem, according to ESPN. Instead, Villanueva took the field and the rest of the team remained in the tunnel before their loss to the Bears in Chicago.
While the Steelers had intended to act as a whole and not single out any players for whether or not they protested, they still faced backlash from fans for not coming onto the field.
Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724 836 6660, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @msantoni.