Pittsburgh Steelers lineman Alejandro Villanueva broke with his team’s plan to push a social justice theme on Monday, by putting a military hero’s name on his helmet instead of a person killed in an altercation with police.
Villanueva put the name of Silver Star winner Alwyn Cashe on his helmet for Monday’s game against the New York Giants, according to TMZ.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe, 35, lost his life to an IED in Iraq in 2005. He posthumously received the Silver Star for valor in combat. Cashe was also an African American.
But the name on Villanueva’s helmet was a departure from the plan. The team had agreed to make a unified display of the name of Antwon Rose II, a 17-year-old East Pittsburgh resident who died in a police-involved shooting in 2018.
The team memorialized Rose in a message to its website:
On the night of June 19, 2018, the car Antwon Rose Jr., who is black, was a passenger in was pulled over by the East Pittsburgh Police. While the driver was being handcuffed on suspicion of being involved in an incident that happened earlier that evening, a frightened Rose fled from the car. The cell phone video a bystander captured showed Rose running, and then you could hear gunshots and see as he was fatally shot in the back three times by a white East Pittsburgh Police Officer.
Villanueva clearly disagreed with the team’s decision to honor Rose.
During the national anthem, the Steelers had also erected a large banner on the sidelines reading, “Steelers Against Racism.” As the anthem played, tight end Eric Ebron raised a militant fist in the air.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 14, 2020
Also, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and several of his players wore Black Lives Matter t-shirts during warmups.
With no fans in the stands to watch the game, the Steelers trounced the Giants in a 26-16 final.
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