OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It’s one of the last images from last Sunday’s postgame revelry: Alejandro Villanueva lifting, hugging and shaking Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh in celebration after beating the Chiefs.
One of the lasting quotes from the national broadcast was courtesy of Villanueva as well. He compared playing offensive tackle in the National Football League to jumping out of planes while in the Army.
The 33-year-old is a retired Army Captain. He served three tours in Afghanistan and has received numerous honors for his military service. He elaborated on that plane-tackle logic.
"I think that offensive lineman are very dark people in a lot of ways. I think it’s a position where when you close your eyes before the play all sorts of bad things are happening. You are hoping that they don’t because a lot of things are outside of your control. And it’s very similar to when I was jumping out of airplanes," he said. "I don’t want to get too controversial with this statement but when I was in the Army I would always look up and see the big mass jumps of the 82nd, the Rangers, and I would always ask myself if we were really going to jump ever again into combat, if that’s a thing that we are going to do in the future. And if we are not going to then why is it that I’m jumping? I'm about to commit suicide until a system of shoelaces and plastic bags catch me up in the air and avoids sure death. Then you get these type of feelings that there is not a lot of upside to jumping, not a lot of upside to playing tackle. It’s one of those things where you are just kind of going through the motions."
There is no question that from game one to game two Villanueva turned his game around. He was one of the worst tackles in the league week one playing the right side against the Raiders. He was back to his traditional position of left tackle week two and he shined.
That’s where he should be again on Sunday against the Lions.