It doesn’t take standing on the sidelines to honor the United States, its flag, or its soldiers. That comes from within. It’s from a deep appreciation for those who fought and died to give us our freedoms and liberty. The Pittsburgh Steelers have always been a franchise that honors those who have served this country. There is a section of the fan base who have taken exception to how the Steelers chose to not play politics. They are burning their Jersey’s, dumping their tickets and walking away. That is their right to protest the team, even if it is under false pretenses.
Steelers Standing United Will Galvanize Them
The Steelers Stand By Rocky Bleier
The fans who are boycotting the Steelers have every right to do so. They’re offended the players didn’t leave the locker room, and were kneeling during the National Anthem. If they didn’t leave the locker room, how would they know they were kneeling? Because they continue to believe erroneous reports despite evidence to the contrary. They are stuck on the false narrative that the players disrespected the flag and military.
The Steelers organization has always had deep respect for the United States Military. They have always honored those who served in defense of our country. There’s no better example of that respect, than how they stood by Rocky Bleier. When the Vietnam War ended, it appeared his NFL career was over due to a traumatic foot injury he suffered. It was doubtful whether he would ever walk again.
Rocky Bleier not only overcome his injuries to walk again, he found himself back on the field playing the game he loved. Art Rooney saw Bleier’s desire to return, and he stood by him. He gave Bleier every opportunity to work his way back. It was Mr. Rooney’s way of honoring Bleier’s service and sacrifice for his country.
Steelers Involvement With the Military
The Steelers organization continuously honors U.S. servicemen and women each year, through direct involvement with a variety of programs. Many of their players have gotten involved on their own accord, including Troy Polamalu and Brett Keisel. Two years ago, the Steelers signed former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva. Mike Tomlin was so impressed by his work ethic on the practice squad, he took Villenueva with the team on a road trip, to honor him for veterans day.
A story from CBS Sports, regarding the NFL and it’s relationship with vets, raised some eyebrows. They reported that the Department of Defense paid fourteen teams a total of $5.4 million to honor the military and veterans. The D.O.D. claims they pay the money out because it’s good for recruiting. The Atlanta Falcons lead the all teams, taking in $1,049,500. The Baltimore Ravens received $884,500, while the Buffalo Bills received $679,000.
The Steelers however, only received $36,000 over a two year period, donating that money back to military charities. They are currently involved with four military charities through their community outreach programs. Heros at Heinz Field, Operation Once In A Lifetime, Toys for Tots Marine Corps, and VAPHS – Veterans /Military, are programs that are very special to the Steelers.
Hero’s at Heinz Field
The Steelers have partnered with VA Health Care VISN 4, to hold a special day at Heinz Field for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans. These veterans, many of whom were injured in the war, get to test out their football skills with the help of Steelers players. These players truly enjoy the chance to hang out with America’s real heros, and thank them for their service to ensure our continued freedom.
Operation Once in a Lifetime
Since the 2010 season, the Steelers and Polamalu have hosted a group of Special Forces service members at a home game each season. This is managed with Operation Once In A Lifetime, which helps to make the dreams of soldiers and their families come true, by providing financial and moral support.
Toys For Tots Marine Corps
Every season, the Steelers select a home game for the fans to help brighten the lives of under privileged children. The fans generously donate toys for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots drive.
VAPHS – Veterans and Military
Steelers players visit the local VA hospitals to spend time with patients who have served our country. At several home games each year, active military and veterans are honored for their service to the United States. For Veterans Day, the Steelers honor a veteran from each of the wars going back to World War II and Pearl Harbor. Color Guards from all branches of the military are present at each home game.
The Steelers have a long and proud tradition of on the field performance. They have one with their support of our veterans as well. Corporate owned franchises may honor our veterans as well, but the Steelers are a family owned franchise, whose support truly comes from the heart.
The Rooney’s have always been generous and socially responsible with their time and resources. They continue to run the franchise with class. From Bleier to Villenueva, the Steelers have have always shown the utmost respect to veterans. They value them for who they are, and the sacrifices they have made for our country.