Vet Who Served With Alejandro Villanueva Calls Him an 'Inspiration'
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva made headlines for his decision to stand for the national anthem before his team's game on Sunday. All the other Steelers players remained in the locker room as part of a league-wide protest.
Villanueva, a former Army Ranger who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, said he doesn't want to disrespect the country and those who fight to defend it.
He later said he regretted that he stood alone for the national anthem on Sunday, because he unintentionally threw his teammates under the bus.
Sean Parnell, who served in the same battalion as Villanueva, appeared on "Fox & Friends" today as part of a panel to discuss the anthem protests.
"I was a company commander when he was coming in as a young lieutenant, and he was so big, we're like, 'We can't send this guy to Afghanistan! He can't fit in the trucks!'" Parnell said. "But then he went to Afghanistan, three deployments. He's an amazing guy."
He added that Villanueva, with his decision to stand proudly for the anthem, was an "inspiration" to anybody who loves the country.
He said Villanueva's subsequent "apology" is just an example of him being a great teammate and putting the team before himself.
Parnell added that he questions what or why players were protesting Sunday. He pointed out that Colin Kaerpernick began protesting police brutality last season, and then it snowballed into a broader protest of racial inequality, and on Sunday it seemed to be players protesting President Donald Trump's remark that NFL owners should fire any "son of a b****" who doesn't respect the anthem.
Parnell said no matter what players are protesting, not standing for the anthem is disrespectful and wrong.
"I don't think that you can take a knee for the national anthem and say that you support the military at the same time," Parnell said. "I think that the whole message of the protest and what it was initially founded upon is lost."
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