Don Wright/Associated Press
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said he supported left tackle Alejandro Villanueva’s decision to honor Alwyn Cashe on the back of his helmet during Monday night’s game against the New York Giants.
The Steelers announced earlier in the day the team planned to honor Antwon Rose Jr., a Black teenager, 17, who was shot and killed by East Pittsburgh Police in June 2018, on their helmets for the Week 1 game.
Tomlin explained Tuesday that Villanueva approached him about honoring Cashe, a U.S. Army sergeant who earned the Silver Star Medal for his actions following a roadside bombing in Iraq in 2005. Cashe suffered fatal burns while saving fellow soldiers.
“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 told reporters.
Chris Adamski @C_AdamskiTrib
Steelers LT Alejandro Villanueva has the name Alwyn Cashe on the back of his helmet
Cashe was posthumousky awarded the Silver Star for heroism after his death at 35 while on duty in Iraq
https://t.co/a4Pbp3UERU had said ALL players’ helmets would have Antwon Rose Jr’s name https://t.co/UMqbxVo6mj
He added the organization would take a similar stance throughout the season with all players’ requests.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said two weeks ago on CNBC’s Squawk Alley that the league would be supportive of any protests by players amid the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We’re going to stand behind our players,” Goodell said. “We respect our players and they have done a great job of bringing attention to these issues. Our focus now is, ‘How do we support them in making the changes?'”
Players used several different forms of protest throughout Week 1.