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RUSH: There appears to be some walking back of things in the NFL. The two examples are Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback of the Steelers, and the coach of the Seattle Seahags. That’d be Pete Carroll. Now, I knew about Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger wrote on his personal website that he didn’t sleep Sunday night. Did you hear about this, Dawn? (interruption) Dawn’s a big Steelers fan. After Sunday, she’s abandoned them. She’s not even reading about them.

Roethlisberger wrote that he couldn’t sleep Sunday night, not because they lost to the Chicago Bears, but because they didn’t go out for the anthem. The team voted on it; so he went with the team. Oh! There’s a player for the Tennessee Titans. His last name is Decker. Oh. His wife is Jessie James Decker. She’s an actress, song stylist, whatever. She has written that he was tricked by other members of the team, not told the truth about not going out for the anthem. He would have gone out if it was left up to him, but he was told that the whole team was staying in.

Anyway, he was tricked into staying in. I haven’t had a chance to read her whole post. There are some people backtracking now about this. Now, Roethlisberger said it was not a protest of the flag or the anthem. He said, “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’s a tribute to those who commit to serve and protect our country current and past, especially the ones that made the ultimate sacrifice, those who were killed.

Now, in the Steelers’ case, the coach held ’em in ’cause he didn’t want the team to have to make a choice is what he said. He said he needed to protect his players, which, that’s a… They’re the ones doing this. But he said he didn’t want them to have to make a choice. He didn’t want to half of them kneeling and half of them standing, so they decided to just not go out. Roethlisberger wrote that that was a mistake. He thought it was bad. He wanted to go out there and he wanted to stand. And that then leads us to Villanueva, Alejandro Villanueva — nickname “Al.”

He served three tours Afghanistan, decorated Special Forces. Not a captain. He went to the team, he went to Roethlisberger, he said (paraphrased exchange), “Look, can I stand at the front of the team with you captains at the tunnel so that I can…? I want to stand for the anthem.” They said, “Sure, of course.” Well, he went beyond where the rest of the team was. He was the only one. The Steelers were there. You just couldn’t see them ’cause they were 10, 15 yards back in the darkness of the tunnel. Villanueva was the only Steeler seen.

And he’s now apologizing (chuckles) for doing the right thing because he feels he let his team down. He feels he embarrassed the coach ’cause the coach wanted total unity not on the field during the anthem, and he said he didn’t intend to be so far out of the tunnel he could be seen. We’ve got the sound bites. I’ll get to ’em here in just a second. Then we move on to Seattle Seahags coach Pete Carroll. “I don’t think it’s been so directed at just the flag, or just law enforcement, or other thoughts. That’s not at all what the players are expressing.

“They’re expressing the freedom of speech and expression, and they have a lot to say, and they’re skilled at what they want to say and what they stand for.” Well, now, that’s just… Forgive me. I know who Pete Carroll is, but that’s just gibberish. Let me go through this again. “I don’t think it’s been so directed at just the flag, or just law enforcement…” It most certainly is! It’s what got this started. It’s exactly why. The guy who started this, Kaepernick, that’s exactly why he did it. The left has taken this over, folks, and I’m telling you, half these guys out there doing this don’t even know why they’re doing it.

They’re doing it for “unity” with their brothers and so forth. Half of them don’t even know why. The other half do, but some are being misled. It is about law enforcement! It is about “hands up, don’t shoot.” Don’t doubt me. It is about police brutality. It is about prison overpopulation. That’s the message that they’re protesting. Here comes the coach of the Seahawks saying (summarized), “No, no, no, no, no. They’re just expressing themselves. They’re expressing the freedom of speech and expression, and they have a lot to say, and they’re skilled at what they say and what they stand for.”

I know what he’s trying to do. Is it harsh to call that gibberish? It’s gibberish! But the point is, there’s some people walking this back now, and they’re walking it back for reasons that I explained to everybody yesterday. You cannot have a business that openly — with gusto and eagerness — protests the United States of America and grow that business. You just can’t do it. It won’t grow. And the left doesn’t want football to grow. The left wants to inflict great damage on football. They don’t want to wipe it out because it’s a cash cow that they can then run shakedown scams on.

They don’t want to wipe it out. But they do want to take the patriotism out of it, they want to take the love of country out of it, and this is right up the left’s alley. You’ve got guys protesting the flag and making it look like America’s still a slave state? That’s right up the left’s alley! And there’s no unity here. There’s no unity resulting from this, despite the flowery lingo. Here’s Alejandro Villanueva yesterday in the Steelers’ press facility. He had a press conference to apologize for standing up for the national anthem Sunday in Chicago against the Bears.

VILLANUEVA: When everybody sees an image of me standing by myself, everybody thinks that the team and the Steelers are not behind me, and that was absolutely wrong. It’s quite the opposite. The entire team would have been out there with me. I’ve made Coach Tomlin look bad, and that is my fault and that is my fault only. I’ve made my teammates look bad, and that is my fault and my fault only. And I made the Steelers also look bad, and that is my fault, and my fault only. So unwillingly, I have made a mistake. I’ve talked to my teammates about the situation.

RUSH: You know, folks, let me tell you something, I got a message from George Brett last night. You know what it was? His message says, “Boy, have things really changed.” And it was a video of Rick Monday saving the flag from an anti-America protester at Dodger stadium in — I think it was at Dodger stadium in Los Angeles. Rick Monday became an overnight national hero, like Villanueva was on Sunday because he saved the American flag. He ran out there and he picked it up and saved the flag, and he was heralded and he was loved

We’ve gone from an entire country celebrating Rick Monday saving the flag to a thrice decorated Special Forces Army man in Afghanistan apologizing for standing up for the national anthem. No, I don’t know if anybody asked him to go out and say this. There’s no way we could know. I don’t know. Since this morning maybe somebody’s delved into it. I just take him at his word. There’s one more from Villanueva. Reporter question: “You have one of the highest selling jerseys, people are treating you as a hero, you stood up. What would you say to people that are trying to put you up there on that pedestal?”

VILLANUEVA: It’s completely wrong. And every single time, you know, I see that picture of me standing by myself, I feel embarrassed to a degree, because, like I said, unintentionally I left my teammates behind. It wasn’t me stepping forward. I never planned to boycott the plan that the Steelers came up with. I just thought that there was to be some middle ground where I could stay in the tunnel, nobody would see me. Anybody who thinks that Coach Tomlin is not as patriotic as you can get in America or any one of my teammates or the owner, I take offense to that. And so that’s kind of how I feel when I see myself stand alone in the national anthem.

RUSH: So he said that he saw the video of him standing alone and he felt embarrassed to a degree. Look, I understand, Alejandro Villanueva is a humble person. You can tell this even if you don’t know him. But because of his experience in the United States Army Special Forces, those are humble people. They do not stand out. Normally Special Forces operation, you won’t know who pulled the trigger unless one of the Special Forces guys wants to go on Fox News says he did it, but normally they don’t do that.

And I’m sure he did feel embarrassed ’cause he was afraid it would look like he was thumbing his nose at what the official team stance was. He wanted to do both. He wanted to stand for himself at attention for the flag, but in the tunnel, and the fact that he was the only one seen, he’s worried that his teammates are gonna think he was one upping them and going outside the plan. I can understand. Snerdley’s saying, “Don’t sell us on Tomlin being so patriotic and so forth.”

He’s the ultimate team guy, Snerdley. He’s a Special Forces guy. I understand what he’s doing here. Now, you might think he’s just making it all up and saying it to maybe smooth the waters for him ’cause he thinks he might be in trouble for having shown the team up. ‘Cause that’s I’m sure what he thought it looked like. He’s taking one for the team, and Roethlisberger, I think, came out as the quarterback has Villanueva’s back in a way by saying, “I wish we were out there.”

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Just got an email from a talk show host, friend of mine in Pittsburgh, Rose Tennent, and apparently Art Rooney II has posted a statement on the Steelers website explaining that they didn’t take the field in Chicago ’cause they didn’t want to make a political statement. So, wait a minute, now. Rose replied to him, and she sent me what her reply is.

She said, “Dear Mr. Rooney: Taking the field and standing for the anthem is how you avoid making a political statement. Standing for the anthem is not a political statement. And we refuse to have it turned into one by those who are actually making a political statement by not doing it.”

She is exactly right about this. The left creates the false choice, and they equate the patriotic choice with a political statement. Standing for the flag is a sign of respect. It’s not tied to politics. If somebody stands for flag or the anthem, you don’t know if they’re Democrat, Republican, you don’t know what they are. She’s exactly right. It is not a political statement.

The thing to do is to stand for the anthem like they’ve always done in the recent past, at least. It has not always been done, by the way. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago the anthem was not even televised. It was a commercial break when that happened. The players were still out there standing ’cause the league wanted that to happen.

But now celebrating America, standing up for America, celebrating the flag, the left calls that a political statement. And her point, Mr. Rooney, it’s not political to stand for the flag. That’s how you avoid politics. She’d dead-on right.

Another tweet from a friend: “This avalanche of NFL jersey sales for Alejandro Villanueva happen to be for a player with an avalanche of vowels in his name. He is Hispanic. So I guess racist America is looking past this fact and making his jersey number one. Yes, ’cause America so racist, it is making Alejandro Villanueva’s jersey the number one seller in America right now.” I love these because they just ram it right down the throats of these leftists, who are corrupting everything they touch. There’s no mistake about it.

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