Rather than have each player choose whether or not to kneel during the national anthem, the Pittsburgh Steelers chose to act as one. During the team’s Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants, the Steelers stood together and held a banner that read, “Steelers Against Racism.” The sign also featured each of the players’ hometowns.
Several of the Giants chose to kneel during the anthem.
Every NFL team chose to protest social injustice and to honor the victims of it in their own way during the first week of the season. Some with mixed results. It began with the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs locking arms for a moment of silence and unity after the national anthem. Fans booed them.
The reactions to the Steelers’ banner also ran the gamut. The most prevalent being some variation on “keep politics out of sports.”
But there were plenty of people who were happy to see the team using its platform for a social good.
And of course there were plenty who went for the joke.
Steelers choose name for helmet
The Steelers also chose to wear Antwon Rose Jr.’s name on the back of their helmets. Rose, a black 17-year-old, was fatally shot last year by a white officer during a traffic stop in East Pittsburgh, Pa., according to the New York Times.
However, Steelers lineman Alejandro Villanueva chose to wear the name Alwyn Cashe. Cashe was an Army Sgt. 1st Class who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. An improvised explosive device killed Cashe in 2005, according to the Military Times.
Prior to joining the NFL, Villanueva served three tours of duty in Afghanistan as an Army Ranger.
The NFL announced in June it would allow players to use helmet badges and decals to “honor victims of systemic racism, victims of police brutality, and social justice heroes.”