After Sunday's various protests during the National Anthem at NFL games, one story stood out: Steelers OL Alejandro Villanueva, who defied his coach and came out, alone, to stand for the National Anthem. Villanueva is a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan. He has played in the NFL since 2014, after serving in the Army, and played college football at West Point.
Although Villanueva's coach criticized him for breaking with the team, NFL fans took a different take on the whole situation: His jersey and t-shirt are now the top-sellers on NFLshop.com. It's also the number-two selling youth-sized jersey.
What's more, the jersey is now being offered in both men's and women's sizes, which, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell, is highly unusual for an offensive lineman.
Jerseys and T-shirts of Alejandro Villanueva are now available in men's & women's cuts.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 25, 2017
First time I've seen that for an offensive lineman pic.twitter.com/EIfozzLdEE
Some of Villanueva's teammates supported his decision to go out for the Star-Spangled Banner, saying that they understood why he felt as though he had to stand during the National Anthem as he had previously served in the military.
It's not uncommon for on-field protests (or in this case, a counter-protest of sorts) to result in a spike of jersey sales. Last year, Colin Kaepernick's jersey was a top-seller after he began taking a knee during the National Anthem. He donated the proceeds from sales to charity.