The Steelers acknowledged they bungled what they thought were good intentions to stay out of politics last Sunday in Chicago. They vow it won’t happen this Sunday in Baltimore, starting at the top.

“I expect our team will be on the field like they were prior to last Sunday,” Steelers president Art Rooney II told the Post-Gazette in a brief interview.

“Last Sunday was the first time, you know, we ever had any kind of incident with regards to the anthem. It’s over, as far as I’m concerned.”

There’s never been a protest by the Steelers during the national anthem. The players planned not to have one last Sunday by staying off Soldier Field until after the anthem played. That unraveled when a crowded tunnel and confusion led to former Army Ranger and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva standing by himself during the anthem. He was supposed to be joined by the team captains with the rest of the players backing them up.

It won’t happen again, they’ve said.

“I’ve talked to the players and made sure they understand where we are,” Rooney said. “I think certainly the leadership on our team has things headed in the right direction. They want to be respectful for the flag.”

The Steelers sent a recorded response from Rooney on Friday night to the numerous fans who called the team to express their anger over the team’s absence from the sidelines in Chicago.

What bothered Rooney most was the perception that somehow the Steelers showed disrespect toward the U.S. military.

“The reaction to what happened last weekend was unexpected and we regret what happened,” he said. “We kind of felt we were staying out of the business of making political statements, but it was interpreted that we were doing something.

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