On Monday night, Pittsburgh Steelers lineman Alejandro Villanueva went against his team to honor a fallen military hero. The NFL athlete had the sergeant’s written across the back of his helmet. As a team, the Steelers decided to honor the victim of a police shooting.
Prior to joining the NFL, Villanueva served three tours of duty in Afghanistan as an Army Ranger. When he took the field on Monday night, he had the name Alwyn Cashe on his helmet.
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. The 35-year-old sergeant left behind a wife and a 12-year-old daughter. The military posthumously awarded him the Silver Star for valor in combat.
The Steelers announced they would honor a victim of a police shooting.
As a team, the Steelers announced they would honor Antwon Rose II, a black teen, on their helmets this season. In 2018, a police officer shot and killed 17-year-old Rose after a traffic stop. According to the team’s website, East Pittsburgh Police pulled over Rose and the driver of the car in June 2018. They handcuffed the driver on suspicion of being involved in a prior incident, but a “frightened” Rose fled the scene.
“The cell phone video a bystander captured showed Rose running,” the Steelers wrote on their website. “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.”
According to to the release, players and coaches “united as one” to wear Rose’s name on their helmets and hats for the entire 2020 season.
According to TMZ, Villanueva hasn’t commented about his decision to break from the team. It wasn’t the first time the lineman stood apart from the team. In 2017, Villanueva was the lone Steelers player to take the field during the national anthem. He later said he had “unintentionally” separated himself from his team and that he supported those who kneel during the national anthem.