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Alejandro Villanueva ‘Not Gonna Miss Football At All’ In Retirement, Says NFL ‘A Little Bit Circus-Like’

Alejandro Villanueva

Former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva recently announced his retirement from the game of football after seven seasons in the NFL, the last of which in 2021 he spent as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.

While he developed into a Pro Bowler at left tackle, though, Villanueva wore many hats prior. The Steelers first saw him as a defensive end. He had also been a tight end prospect coming out of college. He even played wide receiver during his Army football career.

But he is always a man who has worn many hats in life. He was by no means a football ‘lifer’, as others in the game might describe themselves. After all, he already had pretty extensive career, given his age, as an Army Ranger before he ever even made a practice squad in the NFL. And he had some interesting comments about his time in the league, speaking to Ron Cook and Joe Starkey on the Cook & Joe Show for 93.7 The Fan on Thursday.

I’m not gonna miss football at all”, he said. “Football was just, how can I transition out of the military? The military’s what I always miss, the life of being in uniform, ‘hurry up and wait’, complaining 24/7. It’s a dream come true”.

Throughout his playing days, Villanueva made regular reference to his time in the armed services, and he frequently continued to engage with his military past, helping veterans at every opportunity, for example.

“Playing in the NFL with the same people was somewhat like the military, so it was an easy transition out of the military, but football, the world of football and the NFL, it always seemed a little bit circus-like to me”, he admitted, and you can probably imagine some of the things he might be referring to.

Villanueva unintentionally became the center of attention in 2017 when he appeared on the field before the game of a Week 3 game against the Chicago Bears with his hand over his heart to salute the American flag during the playing of the national anthem. The team had agreed to stay in the tunnel in protest due to the political environment at that time, but it was agreed that Villanueva could be out in front.

The problem was, due to pregame chaos and traffic, the team got stuck back in the tunnel, and it created an optic that he was breaking ranks. He ended up dragging himself in front of the media during the following week to explain in excruciating detail what transpired, and since then, his relationship with the media changed.

Still, I do find his comments interesting. “I’ll be missing all my teammates, the coaches, the interactions, complaining, but not so much the game of football itself”, he said. “I never thought I was gonna play in the NFL. I just wanted to be able to fool a coach for one year so I could pay for business school”.

He managed to go through business school while playing. He is now set up for life after football, a healthy, fit 33-year-old, millionaire entrepreneur who has veteran and celebrity status, decorations in multiple fields, and a good head on his shoulders.

But how much will he be watching football from here on out? It doesn’t sound like he’s going to be regularly tuning into Steelers games every Sunday, or anything like that. In fact, it seems that would sound rather boring to him.

“I enjoyed, obviously, the locker room and being with my friends, but the game of football—ping pong is a lot more entertaining, in my opinion, than just sitting out there and suffering, hoping that you don’t find yourself in 3rd and 10 twenty times a game”, he said.

Fortunately, we find the game more entertaining than that, and so do you, I imagine, which is why you’re here. I’m not so sure these comments from Villanueva will go over too well amongst a group of diehard football fans, but nonetheless, I wish him well as he moves on into the next chapter of his life.

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