Steelers President Art Rooney II Addresses Team's Demonstrations on Monday Night
PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers have made headlines following their decision to wear Antwon Rose Jr., a 17-year-old who was fatally shot by an East Pittsburgh police officer in 2018, on the back of their helmets.
Prior to their Week 1 kickoff against the New York Giants, the Steelers announced they would, as a team, remember Rose by wearing his name during the season. During Monday night's broadcast, tackle Alejandro Villanueva was spotted wearing the name Alwyn Cashe over Rose.
Cashe died in 2005, three weeks after rescuing six soldiers from a burning vehicle in Samarra, Iraq, according to the Military Times. He is being considered for the Medal of Honor.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said Villanueva did seek permission from Tomlin before changing the name on his helmet. Tomlin and team captains Ben Roethlisberger and Cameron Heyward have all said Villanueva is able to support social justice however he pleases, given it is done respectfully.
On Thursday, Steelers president Art Rooney II released a statement about the team's actions and words on Monday.
"As an organization, we respect the decisions of each player, coach and staff member relating to how to express themselves on social justice topics," Rooney said. "We will continue to support our social initiatives to fight against social injustice and systemic racism not only in our area, but around the country.
"Along the way, we understand that individually we may say or do things that are not universally accepted. There will be uncomfortable conversations, but we will strive to be a force for unity in our efforts to support a more just society.
"With our support, our players have and will support our communities to address issues with tangible actions. Our players have done an amazing job in helping create social justice platforms that we have already begun participating in this year. But we know there is still work to be done. This season our primary focuses in terms of social justice funds and activities will be voter registration and awareness, community police reforms, and education and community investment."
Heyward and Steelers linebacker Vince Williams addressed the media last month to discuss the team's initiatives towards creating change in the Pittsburgh community. They spoke on the same subjects as Rooney's focus.
"I am proud of the way our players have responded to the need for greater efforts to bring awareness and change to combat racism and social injustice," Rooney said. "I know they will continue to be leaders in our communities and their hometowns."