Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey is clarifying his support of the late Antwon Rose, Jr., who the team honored by donning his name on their helmets for Monday night’s season opener.
In a statement posted to his Instagram on Thursday, Pouncey said he “was given limited information on the situation regarding Antwon,” and “should have done more research to fully understand what occurred in it’s entirety.”
“Moving forward, I will make my own decision about what to wear on the back of my helmet,” he said.
Pouncey also expressed his support for law enforcement, pointing to his track record working alongside police departments both in Pittsburgh and his native Florida.
“I don’t always feel the need to highlight what I do with the police departments, but I also want to make sure they understand I inadvertently supported a cause of which I did not fully comprehend the entire background of the case,” Pouncey added.
Prior to their season opener last Monday against the Denver Broncos, the Steelers organization announced that the entire team decided to honor Rose, who was 17 when he was killed by an East Pittsburgh police officer in 2018. The officer that killed Rose, Michael Rosfeld, was charged with criminal homicide and later acquitted. Rosfeld said he considered Rose and two others in the vehicle to be suspects in a drive-by shooting that happened earlier that day. Fellow passenger Zaijuan Hester later pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and four firearms charges in connection with that shooting.
Controversy arose on Monday when Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva covered up Rose’s name, instead choosing to honor Alwyn Cashe, a Black U.S. Army sergeant who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his heroism in Iraq.
After the game, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said Villanueva had spoken with him about his decision to honor Cashe, and voiced his support for the left tackle’s intentions. More confusion came on Wednesday, when team captains Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Heyward both said they were surprised by and unaware of Villanueva’s decision to break ranks from the rest of the team.
Pouncey added in his statement he is “against racism” and will “continue helping repair relationships between the police and their communities.”
Drafted in the first round out of the University of Florida in 2010, Pouncey has spent his entire eleven-year career with the Steelers. He has twice been named First-Team All-Pro and been selected to the Pro Bowl eight times.