Prior to their Monday Night Football game against the Giants last week, the Steelers announced that every player would have Antwon Rose Jr.’s name on the back of their helmets for the entire season. The team said that “Steelers players and coaches united as one,” but based on Minkah Fitzpatrick’s recent remarks, that doesn’t seem to be the case whatsoever.
When speaking with the media on Thursday, Fitzpatrick explained that the decision to wear Rose decals was made by management, not the players. The way he explains it, it seems as if the players didn’t have a choice as to who they may honor on the back of their helmets.
“It was mostly made from people upstairs and everything else like that,” Fitzpatrick said, according to ESPN. “Don’t know exactly who. Don’t know exactly how. But we did. We knew that we were going to have somebody on the back of our helmets, and it wasn’t exactly clear on what it was going to be. It was mostly made by everyone upstairs.”
Fitzpatrick is the third Steelers player since the team’s season opener to go against the team’s ‘united as one’ front. Offensive lineman Al Villanueva, a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Afghanistan, wore the name of Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe. Captain Maurkice Pouncey posted a lengthy statement on Instagram on Thursday expressing regret about wearing the Rose decal on Monday night explaining that he was “unaware of the whole story” and that he’ll be making his own decision about what he’ll be wearing on the back of his helmet.
Rose, an unarmed 17-year-old African-American, was shot and killed by East Pittsburgh Police in 2018.
The Steelers’ described Roses’ death in a team statement:
“On the night of June 19, 2018, the car Antwon Rose Jr., who is black, was a passenger in was pulled over by the East Pittsburgh Police. While the driver was being handcuffed on suspicion of being involved in an incident that happened earlier that evening, a frightened Rose fled from the car. The cell phone video a bystander captured showed Rose running, and then you could hear gunshots and see as he was fatally shot in the back three times by a white East Pittsburgh Police Officer.”
The incident mentioned in the Steelers’ statement was a drive-by shooting. According to police, an empty magazine was found in Rose’s pocket that matched the 9mm pistol found in the car identified as the car involved in the drive-by.
Officer Michael Rosfeld was the officer that ran after Rose and shot him three times and was charged with criminal homicide but was later acquitted of all charges.
Rose’s family reached a $2 million settlement in a federal civil right lawsuit against East Pittsburgh and Rosfeld in 2019.