The Steelers announced before the season that every player would put the name of Antwon Rose Jr., a 17-year-old black boy who was shot and killed by a police officer, on their helmets this year. The team did that without consulting the players, and now many players are choosing not to participate.
Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey put the name of Eric Kelly, a Pittsburgh police officer killed in the line of duty in 2009, on his helmet for Sunday’s game. Pouncey said last week that he hadn’t done his research when he initially decided to go along with the team’s plan to honor Rose, who was running from a car that had just been involved in a drive-by shooting when he was shot by a white police officer. The officer was acquitted by a jury that had nine white and three black jurors.
Several other Steelers broke with the team’s plan to honor Rose as well. Alejandro Villanueva again put the name of Iraq War hero Alwyn Cashe on his helmet. Benny Snell had Breonna Taylor’s name on his helmet. Stephon Tuitt and James Washington did not have any names on their helmet. Ben Roethlisberger had “It Takes All of Us” on his helmet. Cameron Heyward, James Conner, Joe Haden and Diontae Johnson had “End Racism” on their helmets. Terrell Edmunds had “Black Lives Matter” on his helmet.
When the Steelers announced their plans to honor Rose, they portrayed it as a unanimous decision of the team. But players have said it actually came from management, and it’s becoming clear that many teams are not on board with management’s decision.