Steelers' Alejandro Villanueva Has Best-Selling Gear in NFL After Standing for National Anthem

Alejandro Villanueva #78 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stands by himself in the tunnel for the national anthem prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. / Getty Images
Alejandro Villanueva #78 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stands for the national anthem on September 24, 2017 / Getty Images
September 25, 2017

Army veteran and Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva became the most popular player on the NFL's online store over the past 24 hours.

Fanatics, the company that manages the NFL Shop site, confirmed Monday that Villanueva's gear, including jerseys and name and number t-shirts, had been ordered more than that of any other player in the league since Sunday's games, ESPN reports.

During Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, Villanueva was the only Steelers player to leave the locker room and stand on the sidelines of the field for the national anthem. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin criticized Villanueva, a former Army ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan and was awarded the Bronze Star, for his actions.

"I was looking for 100 percent participation, we were gonna be respectful of our football team," Tomlin said after the game, adding that the players made the decision. "Many of them felt like something needed to be done."

About 180 NFL players did not stand for the national anthem on Sunday, ESPN noted. Three teams—the Steelers, Tennessee Titans, and Seattle Seahawks—did not come to the sideline when "The Star-Spangled Banner" played.

It is rare for a lineman to be the top seller of merchandise in football. Another case of a player whose gear sold surprisingly quickly was when Cincinnati Bengals backup defensive end Devon Still's jersey became one of the league's most popular in 2014, after it was revealed that his daughter was fighting cancer.