Alejandro Villanueva saw his jersey sales spike after he was seen standing in the tunnel of the Steelers’ Sept. 24 game against the Bears during the national anthem.
The team as a whole stayed in the locker room, but Villanueva, a former U.S. Army Ranger, slipped out for the anthem.
The move made him extremely popular with some NFL fans, so Villanueva received a much larger royalty check than usual from the influx of sales.
Timetable: Embiid had surgery to repair an orbital bone fracture on March 31 and missed the Sixers’ first two playoff games. Embiid returned to the lineup in Philadelphia’s Game 3 win in Miami on April 19.
Kevin Pelton on Embiid: The timing of Embiid’s injury is obviously difficult for him and the Sixers, with their multiyear rebuilding process finally bearing playoff fruit.
Situation: Booker is Indiana’s second big man off the bench, behind starters Thaddeus Young and Myles Turner and top backup Domantas Sabonis. Any time that Booker misses is filled sparingly by first-round rookie T.J. Leaf.
Toughest tests: You know the drill by now. There will be a lot on the line in the Steelers’ home game against the Patriots, and Pittsburgh has lost the last five meetings to New England since 2013. Last year’s controversial finish aside, this has been the toughest test for most of the decade. A trip to New Orleans will be a battle of Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees, and a trip to the Black Hole to face Jon Gruden and the Raiders could rekindle that classic rivalry.
Biggest breaks: The Chargers have to make a cross-country trip to play the Steelers. As for the Chiefs, they haven’t beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh since Dec. 21, 1986.
Bottom line: The road game against Jacksonville should be interesting. That’s the team that beat the Steelers twice last year and upset the pecking order in the AFC. Something else to watch: Pittsburgh has lost just three AFC North games in the last three seasons It shouldn’t see much of a slide in 2018. Record prediction: 12-4
It’s similar to why the Cleveland Cavaliers struggle when LeBron James is sidelined. So much is run through James that when he’s off the floor, it puts players in uncomfortable roles when attempting to execute the same system.