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A second Pittsburgh Steelers player has opted against displaying the name of a police shooting victim on his helmet after admitting he was “unaware of the whole story surrounding [the victim’s] death.”
Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey posted a note on Instagram on Thursday saying he would no longer display Antwon Rose Jr.’s name on his helmet. Pouncey also offered an apologetic explanation to police departments and officers he has worked with for “not doing more investigating” before wearing Rose’s name during a Monday night game.
I want to personally clarify what transpired this past Monday night in regard to having Antwon Rose’s name on the back of my helmet.
I was given limited information on the situation regarding Antwon, and I was unaware of the whole story surrounding his death and what transpired during the trial following the tragedy. I should have done more research to fully understand what occurred in its entirety.
My work with the police, both in Pittsburgh and back home in Florida, is well documented. I don’t always feel the need to highlight what I do with police departments, but I also want to make sure they understand I inadvertently supported a cause of which I did not fully comprehend the entire background of the case. I take responsibility for not doing more investigating into something that is sensitive to the community and his family, but it is a lesson learned as it relates to political issues that occur every day in our society.
Moving forward, I will make my own decisions about what to wear on the back of my helmet. Make no mistake, I am against racism and I believe the best thing I can do is to continue helping repair relationships between the police and their communities. System racism issues have occurred in our country for too long, and that needs to stop.
My focus will continue to be on helping the police in our communities, and I support making any necessary changes to help those efforts.
The Steelers team decided to display Rose’s name on their helmets throughout the season as part of a social justice initiative connected with the Black Lives Matter movement. Rose, who was black, died in 2018 at age 17 after he fled from a police officer who had pulled him over for driving a car involved in a drive-by shooting roughly ten minutes prior. Rose was unarmed when he died, though officers found a gun with his DNA on it in the car.
Offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, was the first player to opt out of displaying Rose’s name prior to the Steelers’ season opener against the New York Giants on Monday. Villanueva elected to wear the name of Sgt. First Class Alwyn Cashe instead. Cashe died in Iraq in 2005 while attempting to save fellow servicemen from a burning vehicle.
Head coach Mike Tomlin backed Villanueva’s decision.
“As an organization, and myself as the head coach of the organization, we’re going to support our players however they chose to participate and express themselves, or to not participate or not express themselves, as long as they do so thoughtfully and with class,” Tomlin said.