Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, whose jersey became a top seller after he stood for the national anthem while his team remained in the locker room, will be donating his jersey sale profits to military charities.
Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, was the only Steelers player to leave the locker room during the national anthem when the team played in Chicago Sept. 24.
The decision for the Steelers to remain in the locker room was made after protests swept the NFL following statements by President Donald Trump's that said players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired and fans should boycott the league until kneeling during the anthem is banned.
Players across the league took to one knee during the national anthem in response to the president's remarks. Those who didn't kneel stood, arms locked with coaches and team owners.
The Steelers were one of three teams that tried to avoid politics by remaining in the locker room during the national anthem.
"We just decided that we were going to sit it out, that we weren't going to play politics. We were going to come play the game," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said, according to KDKA. "The means of doing that was to stay in the tunnel and to not have a demonstration of any kind when the anthem was playing and then take the field and go play."
ABC News reports that after the game, Villanueva merchandise became a top seller on the official NFL Shop website.
Villanueva has always donated his jersey profits to military charities and will continue to do so, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported.
NFL players get two-thirds of the money from jersey sales, according to CNN Money. The rest goes to the players union and is then distributed across all players in the league.
Villanueva later apologized for making his coach and his team "look bad," according to KDKA.
"That is the very embarrassing part of my end in what transpired because when everybody sees an image of me standing by myself, everybody thinks that the team, the Steelers, are not behind me, and that's absolutely wrong," he said, according to ABC News.
He also clarified that he is not against kneeling during the anthem.
"People that are taking a knee are not saying anything negative about the military, they're not saying anything negative about the flag, they're just trying to protest the fact that there are some injustices in America," he said.
Tomlin said Villanueva has "nothing to apologize for," according to KDKA.
"I guess he feels like he brought this upon us somehow and that's a shame," he said.