Steelers’ Alejandro Villanueva covers the name of the police shooting victim on a helmet with the name of the military veteran

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Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva chose to cover the name of police shootout victim Antwon Rose Jr. on the back of his helmet during Pittsburgh’s game against the Giants on Monday. Instead, Villanueva chose to write the name of Alwyn Cashe, a veteran who died during the US invasion of Iraq in 2005.

While the NFL has allowed players to wear helmet decals honoring victims of systemic racism, the Steelers have teamed up to honor Rose – a black teenage girl shot in the back by a white cop in Pittsburgh in 2018 after fleeing a vehicle. which was discontinued – for the entire season. The former East Pittsburgh officer was charged with murder, but a jury found him not guilty in March 2019.

Villanueva, a former Army Ranger who completed three tours of Afghanistan, decided to break away from the team and replace Rose’s name with Cashe, a Sgt. 1st Class died after trying to rescue soldiers from burning vehicle in Iraq. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday he approved of his player’s decision.

“As an organization, and myself as the head coach of the organization, we will support our players however they choose to participate and express themselves, or not to participate. or not to speak out, as long as they do it in a thoughtful and classy way, ”Tomlin said at a press conference Tuesday. Tomlin added that the choice of Villanueva did not warrant an explanation.

This isn’t the first time the veteran lineman has publicly strayed from a team’s supposedly unified decision for his own reasons. At the start of the 2017 season, he was the only Steelers player to leave the locker room and represent the national anthem after Tomlin said the team would stay behind to avoid making a statement – “Whatever we do, we will do 100%. We will do it together. ”

Villanueva apologized for his decision to remain alone, saying he felt “embarrassed” because it “made the organization, my coach and my team-mates look bad”.

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