The Pittsburgh Steelers will honor the late Antwon Rose, Jr. by displaying his name on the back of their helmets this season, the organization announced Monday.
Rose was 17 when he was shot in and killed by an East Pittsburgh police officer in 2018.
We don’t want him to be forgotten.— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 14, 2020
For the 2020 season, we unite as one and will wear a single name on the back of our helmets – Antwon Rose Jr.https://t.co/Li8ovGgKa7
With the NFL allowing players to display helmet decals honoring victims of racial injustice, the Steelers players and coaches chose to unite and all honor Rose this season.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin called Rose’s mother Michelle Kenney last week to share the news. Kenney was understandably emotional and moved by the organization’s gesture.
“I can’t explain it,” Kenney said of the call from Tomlin. “It was indescribable. It’s my son. And not only is one person on the team going to wear his name on their helmet. They took a vote, and the entire team is going to wear his name on their helmets. How do you even make sense of that? I wish I could give you some adjective to explain, but I can’t do anything but cry. I can’t do anything but cry.”
Steelers captain and defensive end Cameron Heyward described the team’s decision to honor Rose, and how his death had an even more profound affect on he and his teammates.
“When you think about Antwon Rose’s story, we don’t want to ever let his legacy go away,” Heyward said to Steelers.com. “That kid had a bright future and he was taken away too early. We see all of these things happening across our country now. This hit home.”
The officer that killed Rose, Michael Rosfeld, was charged with criminal homicide and later acquitted. Rosfled said he considered Rose and two others in the vehicle to be suspects in a drive-by shooting. Fellow passenger Zaijuan Hester later pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and four firearms charges in connection with that shooting.
Kenney noted that Rose was an honors student at Woodland Hills High School and volunteered in the community.
“One bad decision shouldn’t cost you your life,” Kenney said. “There was not a second chance for Antwon. Meanwhile some of us have had many.”
Pittsburgh native and Philadelphia Eagles running back Myles Sanders is also memorializing Rose on the back of his helmet this season.
“Although I am smiling, I am still crying,” Kenney said. “Everyone is going to hear his story, see his name, but it’s my son. I don’t know what I am going to do on Monday. No doubt I will be glued to the television. The memories, speaking about it, and knowing Antwon is still going to be here.”
The Steelers will debut the helmet decals when they open up the 2020 season tonight against the New York Giants on Monday Night Football.