Ben Roethlisberger Regrets Steelers Boycotting Anthem; Trump Supports Fan Boos

Ben Roethlisberger - Getty - H 2017
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"I personally don’t believe the Anthem is ever the time to make any type of protest," the Super Bowl-winning QB says.

Ben Roethlisberger on Monday afternoon released a statement saying he regretted his Pittsburgh Steelers boycotting the national anthem on Sunday. 

The NFL team was the first of three to not come out for the pregame ritual. 

"I was unable to sleep last night and want to share my thoughts and feelings on our team’s decision to remain in the tunnel for the National Anthem yesterday," the Super Bowl-winning QB said in a statement. "The idea was to be unified as a team when so much attention is paid to things dividing our country, but I wish we approached it differently. We did not want to appear divided on the sideline with some standing and some kneeling or sitting.

He continued, "As a team, it was not a protest of the flag or the Anthem. I personally don’t believe the Anthem is ever the time to make any type of protest. For me, and many others on my team and around the league, it is a tribute to those who commit to serve and protect our country, current and past, especially the ones that made the ultimate sacrifice."

Steelers' lineman Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, stood an the entrance of the tunnel for the anthem. His jersey has been the top seller since that moment, according to Fanatics. The NFL shop also moved his jersey to the top spot on the team store page. 

The other two teams to not come out for the anthem were the Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks.

President Donald Trump on Monday morning continued to hammer away at the topic of professional athletes who sit out the national anthem. 

That debate was the main headline for most major news organizations over the weekend after the president, during a speech Friday night, criticized NFL players who boycott the anthem, calling anyone who participates a "son of a bitch." 

Trumps remarks were blasted by players; numerous team owners came out against the former reality TV host and real estate mogul, saying they supported their players' right to peacefully protest. And many players did so during the Sunday games. 

There were reports of some booing at stadiums, which Trump said Monday morning he enjoyed hearing. He also said once again the issue is not about race. 

"Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!" Trump tweeted. "The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!" 

Last season, free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to sit out the national anthem in protest of the treatment of African-Americans in America, especially at the hands of police officers. Since then, numerous other players have protested in similar fashion in a number of different sports.

While the president claims the issue has nothing to do with race, some sports commentators, such as Dan Patrick, asked where Trump's same anger and passion was when a woman was killed in Charlottesville, Va., while she protested a white nationalist rally. Sunday Night Football commentator Cris Collinsworth said on air that Trump owed players an apology. Bob Costas also during SNF said it was Kaepernick who did the patriotic act when he sat out the anthem and sparked a new conversation about racial inequality.

Both NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the players' union released statements condemning Trump's remarks. 

Even the player Trump brags about being pals with, Tom Brady, pushed back against the comments. 

“I thought it was just divisive,” Brady told Boston radio WEEI’s Kirk & Callahan during his routine Monday morning interview. “Like I said, I just want to support my teammates. I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust. Those are the values that my parents instilled in me and it’s how I try to live every day.”

Before Monday's game between the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz., the entire Cowboys team took a knee before the Anthem, as did team owner Jerry Jones.

5:29 p.m.: Updated with Dallas Cowboys reaction.