Pittsburgh, PA – A second Pittsburgh Steeler broke ranks and announced he would not be wearing Antwon Rose’s name on his helmet for future games.
“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,” Maurkice Pouncey wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday.
“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,” the Steelers center continued.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had voted as a team to honor 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.
Police said he had a stolen gun under his car seat and an empty magazine in his pocket at the time he was pulled over.
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.
Rose’s partner in crime, 17-year-old Zaijuan Hester, pleaded guilty to five felonies and two misdemeanors in connection with the drive-by shooting the two committed right before they were stopped by Officer Rosfeld, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.
“My work with the police, both in Pittsburgh and back home in Florida, is well documented,” Pouncey’s Instagram post continued. “I don’t always feel the need to highlight what I do with the police departments, but I also want to make sure they understand that 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,” he added.
“Moving forward, I will make my own decision about what to wear on the back of my helmet,” Pouncey announced on Instagram. “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. Systemic 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 will support making any necessary changes to help those efforts,” the professional football player finished.
On Monday night, 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.
Steelers LT Alejandro Villanueva has the name Alwyn Cashe on the back of his helmet
Cashe was posthumousky awarded the Silver Star for heroism after his death at 35 while on duty in Iraqhttps://t.co/a4Pbp3UERU had said ALL players' helmets would have Antwon Rose Jr's name pic.twitter.com/UMqbxVo6mj
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) September 14, 2020
Villanueva covered up Rose’s name with tape and wrote in the name of the military hero who was killed in action during the United States’ invasion of 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.
Steelers’ team president Art Rooney II issues a statement on Thursday that blessed the decisions made by Pouncey and Villanueva, The Washington Post reported.
“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,” he conceded. “There will be uncomfortable conversations. But we will strive to be a force for unity in our efforts to support a more just society.”