A day after former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva stood alone outside a Soldier Field tunnel for the national anthem, the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman’s gear has become the top-selling merchandise in the NFL’s online store, ESPN.com reported.
The third-year lineman beat out runner-up Tom Brady for the top spot over the last 24 hours, per the report. Four of the top five spots went to quarterbacks.
Villanueva has not addressed the issue and was not made available to reporters following the Steelers’ 23-17 loss to the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Multiple reports have cited some locker-room confusion surrounding Villanueva’s move; when asked about Villanueva, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, who was on the sideline for the anthem, said he had expected “100 percent participation” in whatever gesture the team decided to make.
Last year, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s jersey was the top-selling item entering the season, per Forbes, even though Kaepernick wasn’t in the starting lineup. His jersey has remained among the league’s best-selling items even though he’s no longer on an NFL roster.
While sales of Villanueva’s jersey has caught fire online, some Steelers fans have taken a different approach to their licensed apparel after the team’s anthem actions on Sunday:
Villanueva, who made multiple deployments to Afghanistan, recently signed a four-year deal worth a reported $24 million. The spike in jersey sales won’t directly boost his bank account: The league and the NFL Players Association carve up the revenue from such gear.
Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.