The lone Pittsburgh Steelers player who stood for the national anthem before Sunday's game says he regrets how his action was interpreted.
"It's completely wrong. And every single time I see that picture of me standing by myself, I feel embarrassed to a degree, because again, like I said, unintentionally, I left my teammates behind," Alejandro Villanueva said.
Alejandro Villanueva told reporters Monday he didn't mean to stand alone in front of the Steelers' tunnel while "The Star-Spangled Banner" played. The former U.S. Army Ranger was trying to get a glimpse of the flag, but he accidentally stepped out too far.
Villanueva said he asked his teammate if he could stand with the captains at the front of the line so he could see the flag.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said before the game his team would stay off the field for the national anthem to avoid "playing politics."
Many viewers praised what they thought was Villanueva's intentional decision to make an appearance for the anthem and slammed the rest of the Steelers for staying in the tunnel.
But quarterback Ben Roethlisberger later insisted, "The idea was to be unified as a team when so much attention is paid to things dividing our country."
Dozens of players demonstrated during the national anthem Sunday after President Donald Trump criticized those who protest on the field.