Surprising exactly no one on the face of Planet Earth, gear sporting Alejandro Villanueva's name and jersey number became the most sought-after NFL merchandise less than a day after Villanueva defied the rest of his teammates by being the only Pittsburgh Steeler to stand on the sideline in observance of the National Anthem before Sunday's game.
The rest of his teammates -- whose jerseys are notably not selling like wildfire -- opted to stay in the locker room in protest of….something. Still not clear on that part.
As the media cluelessly drooled all over the Colin Kaepernick-led social justice movement in defiance of All Things Potentially Offensive, it looks like the fans have spoken with a voice louder than any commentator’s microphone: with their dollars. Merchandise sporting Villanueva’s name and jersey number was the hottest commodity on the NFL website by Monday morning, according to ESPN, who reported:
A spokesman for Fanatics, which runs the NFL's online store, confirmed to ESPN that, over the past 24 hours, more Villanueva gear, including jerseys and name and number T-shirts, has been ordered than that of any other NFL player.
Villanueva, a Bronze star recipient and former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan, stood alone with his hand over his heart as the National Anthem was played before Sunday’s game, which pitted the Steelers against the Chicago Bears. Videos and photos of the scene quickly flooded social media, going viral within a matter of minutes.
Of course, not everyone was pleased with Villanueva’s choice to honor his country, despite his having personally fought to defend it. Even his own coach, Mike Tomlin, berated the lineman’s decision not to join his teammate’s pity party, saying he’d been “looking for 100 percent participation.”
While Tomlin may have been looking for everyone to kowtow to the rest of his team’s leftist agenda, it looks like NFL fans were just looking for football players to show some respect. Following the explosion in sales of Villanueva’s merch, ESPN noted, “it is unprecedented to see an offensive lineman rise to the top of NFL player sales for any period of time.”
Perhaps, but it’s certainly not unprecedented for Americans to love their National Anthem and those who respect it – something Tomlin, the NFL and ESPN would do well to remember.