Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe was on the Pittsburgh Steelers versus New York Giants field on Monday -- on the back of tackle Alejandro Villanueva's helmet.
While the rest of the Steelers team wore the name of Antwon Rose Jr., a 17-year-old who was shot and killed by East Pittsburgh police after fleeing during a stop in 2018, Villanueva wore Cashe's.
Cashe sustained fatal burns while acting to save fellow soldiers in Iraq in 2005. Members of Congress, Cashe's family, and others have advocated for Cashe's Silver Star to be upgraded to a Medal of Honor. He would be the first Black service member to receive the award for actions during the Global War on Terror.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper endorsed awarding the Medal of Honor to Cashe just weeks ago.
Villanueva served three tours in Afghanistan as an Army Ranger and received several medals for his service, including the Bronze Star.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said during a press conference Tuesday that he supported Villanueva and all players "however they chose to participate and express themselves, or to not participate or not express themselves as long as they do so thoughtfully and with class."
Villanueva has diverged from his team before in a similar way. In 2017, Villanueva garnered national attention his entire team declined to stand on the field for the pregame playing of the National Anthem -- he alone stood at the entrance to the team tunnel with his hand over his heart.
At the time, Villanueva, Tomlin, and the team said the solo stand was accidental.
Reach Elizabeth Howe on Twitter @ECBHowe.
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