The Pittsburgh Steelers had decided as a team to display the name of Antwon Rose Jr. — an unarmed Black 17-year-old who was killed by East Pittsburgh Police in 2018 — on the back of their helmets in an effort to bring awareness to racial injustice.
But when the Steelers took the field for Monday night’s game against the Giants, one Steelers player opted against honoring Rose’s memory.
Offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva instead had the handwritten name of Alwyn Cashe on the back of his helmet. Cashe died in 2005 while serving in the Army after his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.
It was a decision that surprised Steelers teammate Cam Heyward given that the team had agreed to wear Rose’s name.
Head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that he gave Villanueva permission to display a different name. Villanueva, who also served as an Army Ranger, notably elected to stand alone at the end of the tunnel for the national anthem in 2017 when the rest of the Steelers team remained in the locker room.
He apologized for doing so in 2017, saying that he felt he threw his teammates under the bus.