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PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said the team will stand united during the national anthem Sunday before its game against the Baltimore Ravens.
“I think the bigger message was we were trying to stay out of it. That we should (have) united inside,” Pouncey told reporters after practice Wednesday. “It was all about the flag. It was just a big misunderstanding. Trust me, I’m very sorry to anyone who feels the way they do. I care about the flag dearly. Trust me, this team will be out there standing Sunday.”
The Steelers made national headlines earlier this week when they stayed in the tunnel during the national anthem before their game against the Chicago Bears.
Offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva was seen standing several feet in front of the rest of the team, which led to speculation about whether the players were divided.
Pouncey addressed that as well.
“That’s something that happened after the whirlwind of the meeting. It was a shock to all of us. We feel just as bad. Trust us. We keep telling you guys ... We gotta make it right, and I honestly think we will go out and make it right.”
Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Heyward addressed the controversy Monday, trying to make it clear that the team supports our country and our troops. Pouncey reiterated that message.
“I promise you one thing this week, we’ll all be standing out there for the national anthem,” Pouncey said. “Trust me. We respect our flag and we respect the military."
Protests during the anthem in the NFL gained attention last year when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting, later kneeling during the anthem. Since then, players in different sports have kneeled during the anthem to draw attention to racial inequality, police brutality and general social injustices in the United States.