Pittsburgh, PA – One Pittsburgh Steeler refused to cave to the anti-police narrative and chose to wear the name of a military hero on the back of his helmet on Monday night.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had voted as a team to honor Antwon Rose on Sept. 14 for the game against the New York Giants, CBS Sports reported.
Rose, 17, was fatally shot by now-former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld during a felony traffic stop on June 19, 2018.
Officer Rosfeld was charged with first-degree murder, third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and placed on unpaid leave until his police department was dissolved amidst protests.
In March of 2019, a jury acquitted former Officer Rosfeld of all charges after only four hours of deliberation.
Pittsburgh Steeler Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan, got permission ahead of the game to honor slain U.S. Army Sergeant Alwyn Cashe instead of Rose, CBS Sports reported.
Villanueva covered up Rose’s name with tape and wrote in the name of the military hero who was killed in action during a battle in Iraq in 2005.
Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin told reporters on Tuesday that letting Villanueva honor Cashe was “in line with everything we’ve said about participating in social justice this offseason,” CBS Sports reported.
“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.
He also told reporters that no explanation was owed for his offensive lineman’s choice, CBS Sports reported.
However, Rose’s mother took serious offense at the perceived slight to her son and suggested Villanueva should go to another National Football League (NFL) team if he wouldn’t support the Steelers’ decision to honor her son.
“The Pittsburgh Steelers took a team vote,” Michelle Kenney wrote on social media, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Obviously, one person didn’t like the results, so they chose to do something different.”
“I have nothing against vets and absolutely appreciate everything that they have done and continue to do for us,” Kenney wrote. “But this one person showed us exactly who he is and obviously he didn’t approve of how the vote turned out.”
She said she planned to use “negative press” to “hold the Pittsburgh Steelers even more accountable,” the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
“Yes, I believe in second chances, but as we all know I believe in putting in the work and that’s how I base my collaborations,” the angry mother wrote. “They came to me as a team/organization and I don’t care how good of an individual you are, if you are not a TEAM player, then maybe you are playing for the wrong team.”
This was not the first time that Villanueva has parted with teammates on social justice initiatives at NFL games.
In 2017, Villanueva stood by the field for the National Anthem while the rest of his teammates stayed hidden in the locker room as a statement against police brutality, according to CBS Sports.