NFL players are allowed to put the names of victims of police shootings and racism on their helmets this season and the Steelers collectively decided on the same name to become part of their uniform for the 2020 season: Antwon Rose Jr.
Rose, a Black 17-year-old, was fatally shot in the back by a white Pittsburgh police officer in 2018 while running away after the car he was a passenger in was pulled over due to an investigation into a drive-by shooting. Michael Rosfeld, the officer involved, was charged with murder but found not guilty by a jury that consisted of nine white and three black jurors.
Mike Tomlin informed Rose’s mom, Michelle Kenny, of the team’s decision. Kenny said she was honored to speak with the Steelers head coach.
“Being on the phone and hearing that the sports team right here in my city wants to represent my son and tell his story, there are no words for that,” Kenney told the Steelers website. “I wish I could give you something nice to write, but you can’t express that. You hear Mike Tomlin’s voice on television, and I am not saying he is a superhero, but you hear him on television. I am holding the phone and I know it’s him, but I just couldn’t believe the words I was hearing.
“To get a call, with Mike Tomlin on the phone, to tell me he has two sons and he worries too. He said the team took a vote and they decided to do it. He told me he understood. He told me he worries about his kids. My thought was if he is worried about his kids, then everybody has to worry.”