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#pounditMonday, October 26, 2020

Steelers to continue with Antwon Rose Jr. decal, allow players to opt out

There has been some debate this week over whether the Pittsburgh Steelers should wear helmet decals honoring 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr., and it sounds like the team will leave the decision up to each individual player.

Rose was shot and killed by a police officer in East Pittsburgh back in 2018. He was the passenger in a car that had been identified as being involved in a drive-by shooting earlier in the night, and he and another passenger fled when police pulled them over. Rose was shot when attempting to get away, and the other teen, Zaijuan Hester, later pleaded guilty to being the shooter in the drive-by. The officer who shot Rose was charged with homicide but acquitted after his trial.

When the Steelers announced their players would honor Rose by wearing a decal with his name on their helmets, they did not mention the drive-by shooting. Offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva opted to honor a deceased Army sergeant on his helmet rather than Rose, and center Maurkice Pouncey explained on Instagram that he also would no longer wear the Rose sticker after finding out more about the story.

TMZ reached out to the Steelers for a comment on the situation, and the team said whether or not to wear the Rose decal for Sunday’s game will be up to each player.

“We acknowledge there could be changes this Sunday for players relating to helmet decals,” the Steelers said in a statement. “That will be an individual decision.”

Steelers owner Art Rooney II said something very similar in a statement he released on Thursday.

The Steelers have not been able to get on the same page over the years with social justice movements. Villanueva, a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan, 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.

Prior to this season, Steelers veteran Cam Heyward said he wanted the team to “remain united” with whatever they decided to do. Those comments came around the same time defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt explained why he would not kneel during the national anthem.

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