Steelers owner weighs in on Alejandro Villanueva, Maurkice Pouncey decal situation
There has been some disagreement among Pittsburgh Steelers players over which name to display on their helmets during games, and team owner Art Rooney II shared some of his thoughts on the situation in a statement this week.
The NFL has given players permission to wear the names or initials of individuals who were victims of racism on their helmets this season. The Steelers chose as a team to use Antwon Rose Jr.’s name. Rose was 17-year-old who was shot and killed by police in East Pittsburgh in 2018. Villanueva replaced Rose’s name on Monday night with that of deceased Army sergeant Alwyn Cashe, an African-American war hero who died in Iraq in 2005 after suffering severe injuries while saving his men from a burning vehicle.
Steelers veteran Maurkice Pouncey revealed in an Instagram post this week that he will also be removing Rose’s name from his helmet. The center said he was given “limited information” on Rose’s case and that he should have done more to understand the situation. He also said his focus is on improving the relationship between police officers and their communities.
Rose was pulled over because his car matched the description of a vehicle involved in a drive-by shooting earlier that night. Another teen who was in the vehicle, Zaijuan Hester, pleaded guilty to being the shooter. The officer who shot Rose was charged with homicide but acquitted after trial.
Rooney issued a statement on Thursday addressing the back-and-forth over the helmet decals. He said the team supports the right of all players to express their individual beliefs.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 17, 2020
“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 wrote. “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.”
Villanueva, a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan, also strayed from the team three years ago with national anthem protests. Ben Roethlisberger was among those who spoke out about the situation and expressed regret over the way the Steelers handled it.