News & Politics

Steelers Owner Rooney Says Team's Anthem Protests are 'Over'

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

It has been less than a week since the league-wide protests, but the NFL brouhaha seems like it’s been going on for years.

Earlier in the week, most in the league were still defending themselves and paying no attention whatsoever to what the fans wanted. So the fans got louder.

As we head into this weekend, it appears that some in the NFL are listening.

Before the Thursday night game, the Packers and the Bears stood for the anthem, although they still did the silly arm-linking thing because they want to display unity.

This announcement was made on Twitter earlier today:

And now, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II is indicating that his team wants to get back to business:

The Steelers acknowledged they bungled what they thought were good intentions to stay out of politics last Sunday in Chicago. They vow it won’t happen this Sunday in Baltimore, starting at the top.

“I expect our team will be on the field like they were prior to last Sunday,” Steelers president Art Rooney II told the Post-Gazette in a brief interview.

“Last Sunday was the first time, you know, we ever had any kind of incident with regards to the anthem. It’s over, as far as I’m concerned.”

This gets back to the unity thing. The Steelers wanted to avoid the anthem drama, but stay unified as a team. None of them thought that hiding in the tunnel would be interpreted as a sign of disrespect. They’re trying to blame former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva for stepping out of the tunnel as the thing that made them look bad.

Nobody was buying it.

It may have taken too long, but the Steelers organization is finally placing a premium on what the fans think:

It won’t happen again, they’ve said.

“I’ve talked to the players and made sure they understand where we are,” Rooney said. “I think certainly the leadership on our team has things headed in the right direction. They want to be respectful for the flag.”

The Steelers sent a recorded response from Rooney on Friday night to the numerous fans who called the team to express their anger over the team’s absence from the sidelines in Chicago.

It would be very nice if football became a game again, rather than a misbegotten social justice platform. This is a step in the right direction, but it probably isn’t over yet.