PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger says he regrets the way the team handled yesterday’s national anthem and they plan to be on the field next week.
Roethlisberger released a statement saying he wished the team had approached it differently.
“We know some guys wanted to take a knee, guys wanted to stand, we said whatever we do we need to be unified as one group,” Ben Roethlisberger said.
“I was unable to sleep last night and want to share my thoughts and feelings on our team’s decision to remain in the tunnel for the National Anthem yesterday. The idea was to be unified as a team when so much attention is paid to things dividing our country, but I wish we approached it differently. We did not want to appear divided on the sideline with some standing and some kneeling or sitting.
As a team, it was not a protest of the flag or the Anthem. I personally don’t believe the Anthem is ever the time to make any type of protest. For me, and many others on my team and around the league, it is a tribute to those who commit to serve and protect our country, current and past, especially the ones that made the ultimate sacrifice.
I appreciate the unique diversity in my team and throughout the league and completely support the call for social change and the pursuit of true equality. Moving forward, I hope standing for the Anthem shows solidarity as a nation, that we stand united in respect for the people on the front lines protecting our freedom and keeping us safe. God bless those men and women.”
Roethlisberger told reporters Monday afternoon that the Steelers plan to be on the field for the anthem next Sunday.
“Moving forward, we will be on the field. What we do when we’re out there is yet to be determined. Luckily it’s not the night before the game, at 10:30 at night, when we have to make a decision,” he said. “I know I want to be on the field, Cam wants to be on the field, and the guys in that locker room want to be on the field. We will plan to be on the field this week in Baltimore.”
Ben also said that he, Cam Heyward, and Alejandro Villanueva had planned on standing at the edge of the tunnel together, but people coming off the field prevented it.
“I want to make it very clear that we support our troops, we support the people that defend this country, that have lost their lives, that are still currently supporting this country,” Roethlisberger said. “This is in no way, shape or form a protest of the national anthem. It was a way for us to stay unified.”
“We weren’t concerned about boycotting. We were concerned about staying together, unifying as one,” Heyward said.
“It’s hard. It’s a very divisive thing right now, and I think everyone understands both sides. I just wish we could use something else other than the national anthem, but it’s an important issue on both sides. It’s just tough to try to put something together and that’s kind of the best option we had,” David DeCastro said.
Coach Mike Tomlin called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell before the game and told him what his team was going to do — even though he clearly wants the focus to be on football.
“We have group of men come from different social-economic background, different races, religions and so forth. That’s football. That’s a lot of team sports, but because of our position we get dragged into this [expletive] to be quite honest with you,” Tomlin said.
Hours after the game, people are asking the players about what will happen during next week’s national anthem.
“I don’t know. You know, we will talk about it as a team, and anything that we do, we will do it together. We’ll figure it out,” Joe Haden said.
This morning, the NFL announced they will not discipline the players who refused to participate in the national anthem.