Now that the NFL has become a pulpit for mostly leftist politics, teams and players are being encouraged to wear uniform decals to honor people killed in clashes with police officers.
Not every player, it seems, is on the same page with vilifying police officers, though.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have chosen to wear the name of Antwon Rose Jr. on their helmets for the entirety of the 2020 season, the team announced Monday. The black 17-year-old was shot and killed by a white East Pittsburgh police officer in 2018 after running from a car involved in a drive-by shooting.
“This year the NFL is allowing players to wear helmet decals to honor victims of systemic racism,” the Steelers said. “Players could select the name of an individual to wear on their helmet and the Steelers players and coaches united as one to wear a single name on the back of their helmets and hats for the entire 2020 season — Antwon Rose Jr.”
Later Monday, however, one Pittsburgh player covered up Rose’s name with the name of a fallen soldier.
Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva put the name of the late Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe on his helmet during his team’s “Monday Night Football” game against the New York Giants.
Pittsburgh radio host Chris Mack, who embraces being “woke” on his Twitter account, took to the social media platform during the game to stir the pot.
“I have absolutely no issue w/honoring Alwyn Cashe,” Mack wrote.
“Doesn’t mean we can’t ask Al a)why he departed from what team did, & b)why he was ok covering Antwon Rose Jr.’s name.”
He added, “It would give him a chance to describe why a posthumous Medal of Honor for Sgt. Cashe is so important to him.”
After being challenged over the tweet questioning Villanueva’s decision to honor a fallen soldier, Mack became defensive.
“No one said Al ‘owed’ an explanation. But to imply it’s disrespectful to ask him about it is the same line of BS that implies certain people are above being questioned. No one is. Would also give him an opportunity to talk about something that’s obviously very important to him,” he wrote.
Mack also criticized the manner in which Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner wore his face covering during the game.
The woke radio host’s question about Villanueva’s decision to cover up the Rose decal has yet to be answered. However, we can speculate as to why he chose to break from his team and honor a veteran.
In addition to playing college ball at West Point, the 6-foot-9 tackle is a former Army Ranger who served his country in Afghanistan before joining the NFL, Sports Illustrated reported.
Cashe, whom Villanueva honored Monday, was killed in 2005 during a firefight in Iraq, and the Pentagon is considering a posthumous Medal of Honor for him, 15 years after he died while saving others, CNN reported. He was awarded the Silver Star.
Villanueva’s move came as the Steelers honored Rose.
“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,” the team said in its statement. “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.”
The Steelers added, “But tonight, when the Steelers take on the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on Monday Night Football, his memory will be honored on one of the biggest stages imaginable.”
The team left out the context of that 2018 “incident.”
Rose was shot and killed by a police officer, Michael Rosfeld, after he was suspected of being involved in a drive-by shooting in which two people were wounded.
Rosfeld did shoot Rose in the back, but a jury of nine white people and three black people found the officer not guilty on charges of first- and third-degree murder, and also opted not to convict him of voluntary manslaughter.
The jury found the officer in the shooting of Rose justified.
As The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, “Under Pennsylvania law, police officers are justified in using force when they believe it is necessary to prevent death or serious injury to themselves or others, or if they believe it necessary to prevent a suspect’s escape from arrest. That suspect, the law continues, must have committed or attempted to commit a forcible felony and pose a danger to human life.”
Zaijuan Hester, 18, an alleged accomplice of Rose’s, was convicted on charges from the drive-by, The Associated Press reported.
Despite his apparent involvement in a serious crime, the Steelers have chosen to wear Rose’s name on their helmets all season.
Villanueva, who chose to break from his teammates, shouldn’t have to explain his decision to honor a war hero on his helmet.
So far, he hasn’t.