The NFL draft is over and there was much ado over former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and the first openly gay football player, Michael Sam. Of course, more media attention was given to Sam and “that kiss” when he learned he was drafted.And astonishingly enough, comments about Sam’s kiss with his boyfriend drew some football players fines and a trip to adult timeout. Remember when NBA player, Jason Collins, came out as openly gay and the attention he received? Front page covers and a call from the president himself.
However, has anyone heard even a peep about Alejandro Villanueva? Well, he was picked up by the Philadelphia Eagles – a strapping fella at 6’9″ and most important, a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, and a former Army Ranger.The defensive lineman spent the past four years as an active member of the United States Army. The Eagles watched him perform at a regional combine in Detroit last month. He last played football in 2009 for Army as a wide receiver, converting to that position before his senior season. Villanueva served as the Black Knights’ offensive captain in 2009 and led the team in receptions (34), yards (522) and touchdowns (five). He began his career at Army as a reserve defensive lineman and transitioned to left tackle in 2008, starting all 12 games at that position as a junior.
Villanueva graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science in systems engineering and was commissioned into the Army in May 2010 as a lieutenant in the infantry. During his first deployment to Afghanistan, Villanueva earned the Bronze Star Medal for valor for moving forward under enemy fire to pull wounded soldiers from an isolated position, according to the Eagles’ release. He later volunteered for the U.S. Army Rangers program and served two more tours in Afghanistan.Villanueva will bring to the Eagles a sense of duty and honor and a toughness that goes beyond just playing the game of football.
Alejandro represents the best America has to offer and I wish him great success in training camp. Hopefully, this young man will have a distinguished career just like that of another Service Academy graduate, David Robinson of the US Naval Academy, who had a stellar career in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs and was affectionately nicknamed “The Admiral.”
Or perhaps that of famed Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Roger Staubach, also a Naval Academy graduate. Caleb Campbell of West Point, was the first Cadet to be drafted in the NFL IN 2008, 7th round, 218th overall pick.Alejandro’s story should be getting the headlines, not the Jay-Z elevator beatdown, which reflects that worst of our character.
Johnny Manziel may have a Heisman trophy and Michael Sam may be a novelty, but Alejandro Villanueva has a Bronze Star, and trust me, that’s something special.
The Philadelphia Eagles will soon learn what the motto, “Rangers Lead the Way” truly means. Hooah Ranger! Army Strong!