The Combine Report: Week Three – RC Talents Were Radical In Protest, And Played Ball

By: Barry Barnes, Founder

Week Three of the NFL was…well…interesting, to say the least.

While many more players knelt during the National Anthem, one player in particular, although sensitive to the issues, proudly stood because his heart would not allow him to bow to controversy.

There is no doubt that Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, an NFL Regional Combine pioneer, is an honorable man. Prior to joining the NFL, Villanueva was a Captain in the United States Army, in which he was an Army Ranger, served three tours in Afghanistan and was decorated with a Bronze Star.

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“I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down during the National Anthem with a country that’s providing you freedom, providing you $16 million a year…when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for less than $20,000 a year,” said Villanueva in 2016 for ESPN.

When President Donald Trump went off topic at a campaign rally in Alabama last week about NFL players kneeling, he stated, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired.’ ” 

Not exactly Presidential.

The backlash from the NFL community was swift with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell leading the charge. The Commissioner responded the day after the President made his comments about the National Football League and its players protesting.

“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month,” Goodell said in his statement.

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”

The President’s words prompted a group of men, both black and white and full of testosterone, to take offense. They knelt with arms locked.

That’s what Week Three of the NFL was all about, showing equality and unity. It was not to disrespect the flag and definitely not to offend the men and women who serve in our military. Acknowledging the American flag is absolutely important because countless people have died for it, including African slaves who helped to make this country great through their senseless deaths.

Former quarterback Colin Kaepernick initiated the kneeling during the National Anthem last season due to the injustices and police brutality that he perceived were rampant in this country.

The nation’s military proudly defends this country from outsiders, but who is shielding the innocent from those who swore to protect from within?

Justice is supposed to be served in a court of law. Yet, clearly, some members of the law enforcement community get away with murder using the excuse that they feared for their lives.  It is a despicable joke that screams injustice and brutality.

Denver Broncos/Google Images

Denver Broncos/Google Images

“I will be the first one to hold hands with Colin Kaepernick and do something about the way minorities are being treated in the United States, the injustice that is happening with police brutality, the justice system, inequalities in pay,” Villaneuva voiced. “You can’t do it by looking away from the people that are trying to protect our freedom and our country.”

That was the essence of Kaepernick’s original peaceful protest.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin may have been disappointed to see Villanueva take to the field alone and stand for the National Anthem after the team had agreed to stay off the field. However, no other Steelers player or any NFL player, for that matter, who has not served in the military or gone to war can truly understand what Villanueva experienced on the battlefield, so his reason for what he did is credible.

And, the NFL players kneeling is just as credible.

If Americans are offended by the NFL players’ protests, that’s fine. Something radical must often occur before there is change. Take the Civil Rights’ movement and the Million Man March for examples.

Will kneeling during the National Anthem change anything? If nothing else, this continuous unified display should make our country and its leaders focus on a critical issue confronting us so that the United States can be even greater than it already is.


San Francisco 49ers’ Trent Taylor (81) is stopped short of the goal line against Los Angeles Rams’ Cody Davis (38) in the fouth quarter of their NFL game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday, September 21, 2017. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

  • Los Angeles Rams defensive back Cody Davis blasted through the San Francisco 49ers for four tackles, none bigger than his explosive hit on rookie wide receiver Trent Taylor with 13:29 remaining in the contest.
  • In the Jacksonville Jaguars beatdown of the Baltimore Ravens in London, rookie wide receiver Keelan Cole had a reception for 13 yards and fullback Tommy Bohanon had a pass for eight yards.
  • Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen bounced back with five catches for 98 yards, including a 45 yard bomb.
  • Oakland Raiders wide receiver Seth Roberts had four receptions for 20 yards, while Tampa Bay Buccaneers full back Alan Cross had a catch for five yards.
  • Green Bay Packers return specialist Trevor Davis had five punt returns, one spanned for 33 yards late in the first quarter.
  • In another tough loss, Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Jatavis Brown had 10 tackles and rookie linebacker Nigel Harris finished with one stop, like linebacker Julian Stanford for the New York Jets.

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