Art Rooney II Says Steelers' Protest During National Anthem Is 'Over'

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2017

Pittsburgh Steelers President Art Rooney II , intrduces the teams first round pick in the 2017 NFL football draft, T.J. Watt, during at a news conference, Friday, April 28, 2017, in Pittsburgh. Watt is a linebacker out of Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette on Friday that his team will be back on the field during the national anthem before Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens

"I expect our team will be on the field like they were prior to last Sunday," Rooney said. 

"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."

Rooney's comments come after the Steelers, with the exception of left tackle and U.S. Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva, opted to stay in the locker room during the national anthem prior to last Sunday's 23-17 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. 

While the rest of his teammates were waiting to come onto the field, Villanueva stood at the end of the tunnel with his hand over his heart. 

Since then, Steelers players have pledged to stand together Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. 

"I promise you one thing this week—we'll all be standing out there for the national anthem," center Maurkice Pouncey said Wednesday, per the Post-Gazette's Ray Fittipaldo. "Trust me. We respect our flag and we respect the military. I think the bigger message was we were trying to stay out of it. That we should unite inside. It was all about the flag. It was just a big misunderstanding."