This won’t take very long. I had intended to write an analysis about the Senate run-off race in Alabama today. It will be interesting to see how the GOP establishment, and President Trump, handle a defeat of interim Senator Luther Strange. If the recent polls are an indicator, that race will be called rather quickly after the polls end. And if former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore is victorious that doesn’t mean the end of the GOP, just the end of the McConnell wing influence.
But something happened yesterday that just angered me to such a great degree that I had to address it. As we say in the military, we leave no man behind.
I’m talking about the reaction to the image of courage displayed by West Point graduate, former Army Ranger (just so y’all know, no one is an “ex” when it comes to serving), three-tour combat veteran, decorated Bronze Star w/Valor device recipient and Pittsburgh Steeler offensive tackle, Alejandro Villanueva.
If you notice, I listed many greater accomplishments before noting his being an NFL player — remember that. It was seeing Villanueva standing in the players tunnel, alone, while his teammates sat in the locker room. Now, first of all, Pittsburgh Steeler’s Coach Mike Tomlin owes Villanueva an apology. If this man doesn’t understand what the American flag and the national anthem mean to a person who has taken an oath to our Constitution and willing to give his life for that oath, this nation, then Tomlin is a lost cause. Perhaps Coach Tomlin, and many other NFL players and coaches, should take a visit to Ft. McHenry to understand the sincere connection between our flag and the national anthem. Perhaps they need to learn what Villanueva learned at West Point about “duty, honor and country.”
The motto of the U.S. Army is simple — “This We’ll Defend” — and perhaps Coach Tomlin needs to realize that motto isn’t referring to the NFL or the Pittsburgh Steelers. And regardless of how long ago Alejandro Villanueva stopped wearing his uniform, his oath, his commitment to that motto never ends.
So for Coach Tomlin to believe that Alejandro Villanueva was just going to sit there in a locker room and dishonor his oath to this nation is absurd. For Coach Tomlin to be upset with Villanueva for doing so is unconscionable.
You see Coach Tomlin, Alejandro Villanueva served on America’s greatest team, the U.S. Army, and in one of its most elite and distinguished units, the 75th Ranger Regiment. Army Rangers have a saying Coach Tomlin, and it goes “Rangers lead the way”…they don’t sit on their fourth point of contact when the national anthem is being played to honor our American flag. I think that whenever the Steelers have their bye week, the entire doggone team should fly over to Normandy, stand there on that beach, and look up the heights of Pont du Hoc. Then Coach Tomlin, perhaps you may come to know what kind of man you have on your team …Alejandro Villanueva leads the way.
But what has me even more disturbed are two Fox News sports show hosts, Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe who seem to not understand priorities.
As reported by Mediaite, “During the playing of the National Anthem prior to the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Chicago Bears game on Sunday, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva was the only Steeler to come out and stand. According to Pennlive.com, Villanueva’s action caught teammates by surprise — as it had been voted on a day earlier, and decided by a slim majority that the team would remain in the locker room.
“I was looking for 100 percent participation,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said during his post-game news conference. “We were going to be respectful of our football team.”
On that basis, Fox Sports 1’s Skip Bayless agreed that Villanueva — a former Army Ranger with a distinguished service record in Afghanistan — should not have come out for the Anthem. “It didn’t work for him to step out of the tunnel,” Bayless said during Monday’s edition of Undisputed. “If, in fact, you had all agreed, you had voted whether a majority or unanimously, to do this as a team to stay up in the tunnel until the Anthem was done. And Mike Tomlin was clear.”
Bayless’s colleague, Shannon Sharpe, agreed. “Teams, they always take the military mentality, because it’s all for one, one for all. Whatever we decide to do that’s what we’re going to do. He went on his own. I get it. He was in the military. I commend him for his service. But in this situation if the team decided that we, all of us, were going to wait in the tunnel while the national anthem is being played, that was the protocol that should have been followed.”
So, let me get this straight, when Colin Kaepernick was doing his solo thing, he was just enjoying his First Amendment right. When Tim Tebow was taking a knee to honor God, he was pilloried, and abusively denigrated and demeaned by the liberal progressive left, and if you haven’t noticed, he’s no longer playing…didn’t hear of any protests for him.
But, now that Alejandro Villanueva comes out, alone, for his country, he has somehow done wrong? So, when, Shannon Sharpe, did playing a football game become more important than honoring our country, or the individual right to do so? And did you ever think that Villanueva was one of those team members who voted “No” to staying in the locker room? Perhaps, Mr. Sharpe, if you had ever served in the military you would know that we are not bound to follow what we deem unethical orders. And for an Army Ranger, being told to sit in a locker room and not render honors to the American flag and our national anthem isn’t just unethical, it’s unacceptable.
When Alejandro Villanueva was in Afghanistan, three times, giving 100 percent, I just gotta ask, where was Skip Bayless, Shannon Sharpe, and Mike Tomlin? I think gents, he knows quite well about being on a team, a winning team. After 9-11, NFL player Pat Tillman decided he wanted to serve on a winning team, so he volunteered to be a US Army Ranger, and sadly lost his life in Afghanistan. The question is, does the National Football League still produce Pat Tillmans or is Colin Kaepernick the new standard?
And if y’all are just a little bit confused, I would bet it will be the American flag that will drape Alejandro Villanueva’s coffin, not a Pittsburgh Steelers flag. Super Bowl rings do not compare to being a U.S. Army Ranger with a 75th Ranger Regiment Scroll on your right shoulder.
[Learn more about Allen West’s vision for this nation in his book Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Faith, Family and Freedom]