Have you ever heard about a football athlete who was also a captain in the United States Army? If yes, Who is it? If you guessed Al Villanueva, then you are correct.
Al Villanueva is an American football athlete of the NFL who was also a captain in the United States Army, serving as an Airborne Army Ranger. He plays as an offensive tackle for his team.
Moreover, Al’s professional career as a professional football athlete started after serving in Afghanistan three times and got signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Furthermore, let’s get into the details of Al Villanueva’s early life, professional career, military career, and family. But, first, here are some of Al’s quick facts.
Al Villanueva | Quick Facts
|Full Name||Alejandro Villanueva Martinez|
|Birth Date||September 22, 1988|
|Age||34 Years Old|
|Birth Place||Meridian, Mississippi|
|Education||SHAPE High School, United States Military Academy, Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business|
|Father’s Name||Ignacio Villanueva|
|Mother’s Name||Matilde Martin|
|Siblings||Paloma, Inaki, Carmen|
|Height||6’9″ (2.06 m)|
|Weight||320 lbs (145 kgs)|
|Shoe Size||Not Available|
|Children||Cruz, Eva, Alina|
|Profession||Professional Football Player|
|Former Teams||Philadelphia Eagles|
|Net Worth||$24 million|
|Awards and Achievements||2× Pro Bowl- 2017, 2018|
|Social Media||Instagram, Twitter|
|Merch||Pittsburgh Steelers’ Sweatshirt|
|Last Update||November, 2022|
Al Villanueva | Early Life, Family & Education
Football Offensive Tackle Al Villanueva was born on September 22nd, 1988, in Meridian, Mississippi, to his parents, Ignacio Villanueva and Matilde Martin.
Al’s father, Ignacio, is a Spanish Naval officer who worked for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO). Both of Al’s parents stand over 6 feet in height.
Moreover, Al has three younger siblings named Paloma Villanueva, Inaki Villanueva, and Carmen Villanueva.
Before residing in Belgium, Al and his family lived in Rhode Island, Spain, during his childhood. While he lived in Spain, Al played Rugby, and after he moved to Belgium, he started playing football.
Furthermore, Al’s brother Inaki is a professional Rugby Union athlete. He represents one of the 15 core teams called the sevens team and Spain national Rugby union team.
Likewise, Inaki was also part of the 2016 Olmpyics qualifying team and played during the 2012 Olympics tournament.
Age, Height, and Body Measurements
Al turned 34 years old as of November, 2022. Furhtermore, he has brown-colored eyes and hair.
Moreover, Villanueva possesses an athletic build and stands at the height of 6’9″ (2.06 m), and weighs around 320 lbs (145 kgs).
Moving on to Al’s educational background, he attended SHAPE High School located in Casteau, Belgium. In school, the coach recruited him to play American Football.
Likewise, for his bachelor’s, Al attended United States Military Academy. Moreover, Al attended Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business and earned an MBA degree in 2015.
However, he didn’t study full time and completed his degree in four years rather than three.
Al Villanueva | Career and Profession
Before jumping into Al’s professional career, let’s look into his college career first.
The Army Black Knights’ coach called Al because his childhood friend from his high school Joe Puttmann recommended him. Thus, Al ended up playing football for the Army Black Knights.
Moreover, Al played at several positions, including wide receiver, left tackle, and defensive lineman.
However, the coach recruited him to play as a tight end. As a result, Al played at the defensive end during his first year, especially for the special teams.
Furthermore, during Al’s sophomore season, Army’s offensive line coach John Tice persuaded to have Al turn to an offensive tackle. As a result, his position changed at the end of his sophomore year.
By the junior season, Al started for every game of the Army’s left tackle.
Besides, Al’s teammates voted him as a team captain before his senior year. He willingly converted once more from his original position to become a 130 kgs wide receiver.
Al was not drafted by any teams during the 2010 NFL Draft and remained undrafted. However, Cincinnati Bengals offered Al a tryout as the tight end, but he did not make it to the Bengals as a tight end and decided to join the military service.
Moreover, after two years, Al made another attempt to participate as a tight end in the NFL. Chicago Bears offered him a tryout and practiced with the team, but the Bears didn’t sign him at the end.
Likewise, after Al finished his last tour with the Army Rangers, he decided to pursue a career in NFL once again. Thus, he began working out to get in shape for the NFL at Savannah State College.
Furthermore, in March 2014, Al paid $245 to attend a regional NFL combine held in Flowery Branch, Georgia. During that time, the NFL had over 3,000 prospects attend the ten regional combines that they held nationwide.
Thus, in April 2014, Al was one of 240 prospects invited by the NFL to attend the NFL super regional combine held in Detroit. There he met with representatives of the Philadelphia Eagles.
After attending the NFL super regional combine, the Philadelphia Eagles signed Al to play a defensive end under an undisclosed contract on May 5th, 2014.
Al’s signing with the Eagles marked the second time they signed a military veteran to represent the team. Before Al, the Eagles signed Chad Hall from the Air Force to play as a wide receiver.
Moreover, Al stated that if he did not make it to the NFL roster, he would be joining the military to serve his fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan.
He added that it was a win-win situation for him as Al was trying to get to the team and contribute, but he also couldn’t wait to get back to the Army and serve in the Army as he did before.
Furthermore, on August 23rd, 2014, the Eagles announced that Al was one of the 14 players cut from the team.
Mike Tomlin, Steeler’s head coach, spotted Al during the preseason game between Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers. He was amazed by Al because of his size and athleticism.
Thus, eight days after the Eagles waived Al off their practice team, the Steelers signed him to their practice team on August 31st, 2014. After joining his new team, the head coach instantly changed him from his previous defensive end position to an offensive tackle.
Moreover, as a defensive end for the Eagles, Al weighed 250 lbs after a year of becoming an offensive tackle later; his weight rose to 340 lbs.
Likewise, the head coach kept Al on the practice squad to learn his position, gain more weight and develop his abilities throughout the 2014 season.
Moreover, the Steelers signed Al in a two-year reserve/futures contract worth $960,000 on January 6th, 2015.
After Mike Adams sustained an injury the next year, Al could get into the training camp and preseason as the second-team swing tackle. However, as Adams could not recover from his injury before the regular season, Al became the Steelers’ swing tackle to start the 2015 regular season.
His professional debut was in the 2015 season opener game against the New England Patriots, where he played five snaps on goal-line plays as an extra tackle.
Likewise, on October 18th, 2015, Al got his first opportunity to play as a left tackle against the Arizona Cardinals.
The next week, Al got his career-first start as an offensive tackle since 2008 when he played against the Kansas City Chiefs as a defensive end.
Furthermore, during his first season as a starter, the Pro Football Focus ranked Al as the 48th best offensive tackle with an overall grade of 47.5.
Best Offensive Tackle
After Kelvin Beachum left the team via free agency, the Steelers named Al as the starting left tackle to begin the 2016 season, where he struggled early in the season and yielded five sacks during the first six games of the season.
Likewise, after week 7 of the season, Al’s pass protection and run blocking considerably improved. Additionally, he allowed only one sack in the last ten games, which helped the Pittsburgh Steelers lead towards the playoffs.
Thus, Pro Football Focus ranked Al as the 23rd best offensive tackle of the league and received an 82.4 overall grade.
Moreover, in the three playoff games and upcoming first six regular games, Al had eight penalties in his 19 starts and 46 pressures.
Al signed a four-year contract extension worth $24 million with the Steelers on July 27th, 2017.
Moreover, Al and his fellow teammates David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey got a chance to play at their first Pro Bowl on December 19, 2017.
Thus, Al became the first graduate of the service academy to participate in the Pro Bowl after Roger Staubach in 1979.
Additionally, his grade among all offensive tackles in the NFL got the 24th rank.
National Anthem Controversy
During the 2017 season, before the game against Chicago Bears held on September 24th, 2017, the Steelers decided not to be present at the field for the national anthem.
It was just to avoid getting involved in the controversy, which showcased players bending or displaying other symbols of racial protest throughout the NFL, started by Colin Kaepernick.
Al was the only member of the Steelers who appeared publicly in front of the entrance tunnel attending the national anthem while the rest of the Steeler’s team remained inside the tunnel.
Mike Tomlin, head coach of the Steelers, stated that his wish was to play in the tournament and not show any support regarding the issue.
However, after the incident, Al’s jersey on the NFL’s official store became the top-selling jersey in the 24 hours after Sunday’s games started.
Al’s sudden move surprised some of his teammates and coach Mike. Later, in an interview, he apologized for his front stating-
“I see the picture of me standing alone and I’m embarrassed because I left my teammates behind unintentionally.”
Additionally, he stated- “It wasn’t me stepping foremost. I never intended to boycott the plan that the team came up with. I just assumed there would be some middle ground on where I could stand in the tunnel, and nobody would see me.”
Honor towards Alwynn Cashe
Furthermore, on September 28th, 2020, Al taped Sergeant First Class Alwynn Cashe’s name on the back of his helmet and covered the name of Antwon Rose Jr, who was killed after being involved in a drive-by shooting by an East Pittsburgh police officer in June 2018.
Alwynn was a US Army non-commissioned officer who was awarded the Silver Star in 2005 for his actions during soldiers’ rescue from a burning vehicle on Operation Iraqi Freedom.
While rescuing the soldiers, Cashe sustained burns over 75% on his body and ultimately acceded to his injuries.
The Steelers team decided to honor Rose. However, Al stated his actions were meant to boost the campaign to upgrade Cashe’s Silver Star award to the Congressional Medal of Honor.
You can learn more about Al’s decision to support Cashe’s campaign here– Who is Alwyn Cashe, and why did Al choose to honor him?
Still with the Steelers or with the rival Ravens
Even after being the top-ranked offensive lineman on the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020, why are Steelers not so keen on keeping the big man Al, or is it the other way round? Does Al want to quit on the team?
As per the reports, Stellers are planning to make modest changes to their roster from 2020 to the 2021 NFL season. They are just focused on deciding who they should let go and who they should bring in actively.
And in the last couple of years, the Steelers have noticed a downfall in Al’s performance, whereas when he lies ob the second position as the best offensive player on the team.
On the other hand, there were reports that stated the Steelers are still willing to bring him back. But ultimately, Al inked a two-year contract worth $14 million with the Baltimore Ravens for the 2022 NFL draft.
To count on the response from Al’s side, Al said that Steeler confronted him; they were not looking forward to retaining him in the team once the season ended.
Al Villanueva making comments on Steelers’ JuJu Smith-Schuster
The wide receiver from the Steelers gives an audacious reply when the recent joiner of Ravens and his former teammate Al Villanueva makes a comment on his Tiktok videos.
While Al was up for an initial press conference with Ravens, he mentioned wide receivers paying more attention to their Tiktok videos.
“I’m assuming it’s not as much fun for the receivers because they’re not getting all of the catches. They’re making the Tik Toks, and they’re having fun on their social media.”
Responding to the comments, Smith Schuster on NFL Network said,
“It’s who I am. I’m authentic. At the end of the day, it’s okay if I’m doing the TikToks, and I’m putting stuff on the field — I’m making catches, I’m scoring touchdowns, I’m doing my job — you can’t hate me. I’m just winning and also having fun.”
But, Smith’s video received a lot of criticism last year; he was called out by a lot of players last season. Eventually, he decided to end his TikTok logo dances after facing a loss to Cincinnati Bengals.
Villanueva also received the tag of being old when Smith talked about the change in environment after joining the Steelers.
“At one point in my life, I was part of a team where I was with a lot of old guys,” he said with a smile. “Now, I’m a part of a team where it’s a lot of young guys.”
Apart from football, Al is a United States Military Academy graduate. The United States Army commissioned him as a second lieutenant in the Infantry on May 22nd, 2010.
After commissioning, Al attended several military schools, Airborne, Ranger, and Infantry Schools, located at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Moreover, after completing all of his three courses, he became part of the 10th Mountain Division of Fort Frim, New York.
Al was deployed for 12 months to Afghanistan as a rifle platoon leader with the 10th Mountain Division to support Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan.
Likewise, he became the Bronze Star Medal holder with a “V” device that symbolized wounded soldiers’ rescue under enemy fire. Al received the medal because of his actions during his deployment.
Furthermore, in 2013 Al volunteered for the 75th Ranger Regiment’s Ranger Orientation Program. Later, he became 1st Ranger Battalion, and his roles within the Battalion included platoon leader, company executive officer, and plans officer.
Al was deployed two more times to Afghanistan for eight months between his two deployments.
Then, in 2015, he left the Army as his downsizing efforts meant that he would have to wait 18 months for a command position, which would last less than 12 months.
- Two-time Pro Bowl in 2017 and 2018
- 48th best offensive tackle by Pro Football Focus in 2015
|Badge||Combat Infantryman Badge|
|1st row||Bronze Star Medal|
with “V” device and 1 bronze oak leaf cluster
|2nd row||National Defense Service Medal||Afghanistan Campaign Medal|
with 1 bronze Campaign star
|Global War on Terrorism Service Medal|
|3rd row||Army Service Ribbon||Army Overseas Service Ribbon||NATO Medal|
for service with ISAF
with 1st Ranger Battalion background trimming
|Ranger tab||1st Ranger Battalion|
Combat Service Identification Badge
Al Villanueva | Net Worth
Looking back at Al’s contract details, previously, he signed a $960,000 reserve contract with Pittsburgh Steelers. Later, he signed a four-year contract extension worth $24 million with the Steelers.
Reportedly, Al’s base salary falls around $5 million. Moreover, Al also has an endorsement deal with The United Services Automobile Association (USAA). As a result, he appeared in one of their voice commercials. Additionally, Al’s wife and son also appear in the commercials.
Thus, we can state that-
The presumable net worth of Al Villanueva falls around $24 million.
Al Villanueva | Wife and Children
Al is married to his long-time girlfriend, Madelyn Muldoon. According to Al, they met through Madelyn’s brother Joe Muldoon. Joe and Al played football in Army.
Moreover, Madelyn and Al started dating in 2012, and the two got married in a small ceremony held in Madelyn’s parents’ backyard in November 2013.
They had a larger wedding ceremony on May 9th, 2015, in Huntingtown, Maryland, at the Jesus the Divine Word Catholic Church in Maryland.
Furthermore, Al and Madelyn have three children named Cruz Villanueva , Eva Villanueva, and Alina Villanueva.
Al Villanueva | Social Media Presence
Al’s social media presence is absent. However, his fans still post about him using his hashtag on various social media platforms.
Here are Al Villanueva’s most used hashtags.
Common Queries about Al Villanueva
Is Al Villanueva Mexican?
No, Al Villanueva is not a Mexican. Villanueva was born to a Spanish mother and father, making him Hispanic.
Does Al Villanueva still play for the Steelers?
Al Villanueva four years contract with the Steelers ended in 2020. Thus, it is unsure if Al will be resigned by the Steelers or represent a new team.
Which religion does Al Villanueva follow?
Not only follows, but Al has extreme faith in Catholicism; he has also spoken on it publically.