But Tomlin told reporters that he wanted his team to focus on the game against the Chicago Bears, which they lost, rather than focusing on President Donald Trump's comments on the anthem protests.
His teammates, who were reportedly surprised by Villanueva's actions, remained either in the locker room or stood near the tunnel out of sight of the crowd.
Villanueva said Monday that he threw his teammates "under the bus, unintentionally", and made them and Tomlin "look bad".
Roethlisberger claimed he hadn't been able to sleep after the Steelers made a decision to wait in the tunnel, wondering if the team should have come out to stand for the anthem instead.
"We thought we were all in attention with the same agreement, obviously", Harrison said. "But I guess we weren't". According to Fowler, Steelers players respect Villanueva for his service.
"Al is a unique circumstance, what he's been through, some of the things he's talked about before", he noted. Now I just bought this for work, but have to get rid of it too'. Because if I have heard one thing over and over for the last 48 hours from the National Football League, it's that the National Football League is a family.
For three days, Trump has drawn criticism from the worlds of politics and sports for saying that football players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired. "If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate for the anthem, he shouldn't have to be forced to choose sides", Tomlin told CBS before the game.
Fans apparently appreciated Villanueva's gesture.
Pittsburgh Steelers player Alejandro Villanueva stole the hearts of Americans after he stood for the anthem while his team stayed in the locker room. Twenty-six percent of those who watched fewer games last season said that national anthem protests, some of which were led by Colin Kaepernick, were the reason.
In the past, Villanueva has said he aligned with player frustration over racial injustice, but the sacrifice of the military is too great to minimize the anthem.
"I think I was off today", he said. "This national anthem ordeal has sort of been out of control, and there's a lot of blame on myself. I do it because of all the veterans, all the soldiers I served with".
By one metric, the Pittsburgh Steelers'Alejandro Villanueva has emerged from the NFL's current controversy as the most popular player in the league. But you do not disrespect the flag and the country and the Constitution.
The Steelers chose to wait in the tunnel instead of coming out while the anthem played.
Villanueva's decision to leave his team in the locker room and emerge from the tunnel drew mixed reaction from the Steelers organization.