During the Pittsburgh Steelers Monday Night Football game, offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva elected to cover the name of police shooting victim Antwon Rose Jr. on the back of his helmet with the name a U.S. veteran who died in combat.
As part of the NFL's social justice messaging this year, players and teams are being encouraged to place decals on their helmets to honor the victims of police violence. The entire Steelers team chose to put the name of Rose, a 17-year-old black man who was shot while running from police after participating in a drive-by shooting, on their helmets for the entire season.
Villanueva, a former Army Ranger and Afghanistan veteran, asked his coach Mike Tomlin if he could cover over Rose's name with that of Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe. Cashe, also a black man, died as he attempted to rescue soldiers from a burning vehicle in Iraq. He was later awarded the Silver Star after his death.
Tomlin agreed to the change.
"As an organization, and myself as the head coach of the organization, we're going to support our players however they chose to participate and express themselves, or to not participate or not express themselves, as long as they do so thoughtfully and with class," Tomlin said at a press conference.
? In 2017, it was Villanueva who alone left the team locker room to enter the stadium and stand at attention for the performance of the Star-Spangled Banner.