After the Pittsburgh Steelers ignited equal parts outrage and solidarity among viewers for refusing to emerge from the locker room during the national anthem last weekend, the team has evidently changed its tune and will appear – standing – on the field come Sunday in Baltimore.
“I promise you one thing, this week we’ll all be standing out there for the national anthem,” center Maurkice Pouncey told reporters on Wednesday. “Trust me.”
Unlike the last incident, which saw all but one of the players remain in the locker room in protest to President Donald Trump and his feud with the NFL, the Steelers will present a united front this time.
“As far as I know it’s 100 percent participation,” Pouncey said. “We love this country. It’s America. We know there are injustices in this world, but to me, personally, football is football and that’s what we need to approach it as.”
While some celebrated the Steelers’ move as a strong show of resistance and solidarity in the wake of what has been branded as a presidential attack on free expression, others took to social media to voice their discontentment. Some fans even filmed themselves burning team merchandise to show that they’re done supporting the NFL.
Pouncey believes that the coming game in Baltimore will give the Steelers a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of all fans.
“I think this week we are going to show that. We are sorry for all of our fans who are upset about the things that went down, and I think we’ll come together and all of this will be out the window,” he said.
The team’s change of heart could have something to do with reports that ticket sales are plummeting due to the “Trump Effect,” with the Washington Examiner claiming that ticket sales fell by 17.9 percent this week compared to the previous week.