Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey was the second player on the team to remove a name from the back of his helmet.
Pouncey will not put the name of Antwon Rose Jr. on the back of his helmet after the team decided upon the move ahead of the season. Rose was shot and killed in 2018 by a Pittsburgh police officer. Pouncey released a statement Thursday explaining his decision.
“I want to personally clarify what transpired this past Monday night in regard to having Antwon Rose’s name on the back of my helmet,” he wrote.
“I was given limited information on the situation regarding Antwon, and I was unaware of the whole story surrounding his death and what transpired during the trial following the tragedy. I should have done more research to fully understand what occurred in its entirety."
“My work with the police, both in Pittsburgh and back home in Florida, is well documented. I don’t always feel the need to highlight what I do with 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. I take responsibility for not doing more investigating into something that is sensitive to the community and his family, but it is a less learned as it relates to political issues that occur every day in our society."
“Moving forward, I will make my own decision about what to wear on the back of my helmet. Make no mistake, I am against racism and I believe the best thing I can do is to continue helping repair relationships between the police and their communities. Systemic racism issues have occurred in our country for too long, and that needs to stop."
“My focus will continue to be on helping the police in our communities, and I will support making any necessary changes to help those efforts.”
Steelers players had chosen to wear Rose’s name to raise awareness of racial injustice. Pouncey’s teammate Alejandro Villanueva broke from the team when he chose to cover the decal and instead write the name of Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe on the back.
Cashe died in 2005 after attempting to rescue fellow soldiers from a burning vehicle following a roadside bomb in Samarra, Iraq, on Oct. 17, according to the Military Times. He suffered second- and third-degree burns over 70% of his body, eventually succumbing to those injuries on Nov. 5.
The Steelers made the announcement about the Rose decal prior to Monday night's game against the New York Giants. However, the Steelers didn't disclose in their statement that Rose was in a vehicle matching the description that was thought to have been involved in a drive-by shooting or that the White officer Michael Rosfeld was acquitted in the shooting by a jury in a four-day trial.