Ben Roethlisberger releases statement on Steelers remaining in locker room during national anthem

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates with Antonio Brown #84 after a touchdown by DeAngelo Williams #34 (not pictured) during the second quarter against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

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FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates with Antonio Brown #84 after a touchdown by DeAngelo Williams #34 (not pictured) during the second quarter against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger released a statement on his official website Monday regarding his team’s decision to stay in the locker room during the national anthem on Sunday.

Here is the full statement from Roethlisberger’s website:

“I was unable to sleep last night and want to share my thoughts and feelings on our team’s decision to remain in the tunnel for the National Anthem yesterday. The idea was to be unified as a team when so much attention is paid to things dividing our country, but I wish we approached it differently. We did not want to appear divided on the sideline with some standing and some kneeling or sitting.

“As a team, it was not a protest of the flag or the Anthem. I personally don’t believe the Anthem is ever the time to make any type of protest. For me, and many others on my team and around the league, it is a tribute to those who commit to serve and protect our country, current and past, especially the ones that made the ultimate sacrifice.

“I appreciate the unique diversity in my team and throughout the league and completely support the call for social change and the pursuit of true equality. Moving forward, I hope standing for the Anthem shows solidarity as a nation, that we stand united in respect for the people on the front lines protecting our freedom and keeping us safe. God bless those men and women.

Roethlisberger’s teammate Alejandro Villanueva –– who served three tours in Afghanistan –– was the only Steeler standing in the tunnel with his hand on his heart during the national anthem Sunday. The rest of the team remained in the locker room.