The Steelers are making a big statement with a message on their helmets when they take the field Monday night against the Giants.
The name of Antwon Rose Jr. will be on the back of the team's helmets and hats this season to honor the 17-year-old who was shot to death by an East Pittsburgh Police Officer in June of 2018.
Steelers defensive captain Cam Heyward told Steelers.com that he hopes the team can make a difference with the gesture.
"When you think about Antwon Rose's story, we don't want to ever let his legacy go away," said Heyward, one of the Steelers team captains and a voice that has been heard in the team's fight against social injustice. "That kid had a bright future and he was taken away too early. We see all of these things happening across our country now. This hit home.
"The work his mom is doing to better the community and improve police relations in the community is awesome. We want to show we are with her as she continues to deal with this. I know it can't be an easy thing. She has to deal with this every day. But we are behind her. We see what she is doing and love what she is doing. We can do so much more if we can have her back and continue to remember Antwon.
"It's so powerful. We understand we can't bring back the loved ones we've lost. All we can do is try to prevent more. We know there are great people who are police and are involved in their communities. But all we can do is try to improve that. We want to have better relationships, so it's never escalated. We don't want to lose any more of our loved ones. Hopefully we can say in the future Antwon Rose's story changed the narrative and the hearts of many people."
Rose's mother, Michelle Kenney says he loved football and the Steelers.
She got a phone call from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin explaining the move the team made.
"I can't explain it," said Kenney of what it was like to get that call. "It was indescribable. It's my son. And not only is one person on the team going to wear his name on their helmet. They took a vote, and the entire team is going to wear his name on their helmets. How do you even make sense of that? I wish I could give you some adjective to explain, but I can't do anything but cry. I can't do anything but cry."
"To me it's not about Antwon. Antwon is gone and I couldn't save him. But if I could collaborate with the Pittsburgh Steelers and save one life, I am grateful," added Kenney.
White police officer Michael Rosfeld was accquitted of murder and the decision was met with anger and protests after the result
Kenney says that she has a relationship with may police officers.
"There are some great cops out there. I have friends who are cops," said Kenney. "We talk. They call me. I call them. They showed up at Antwon's funeral. They aren't all bad. I don't think the kids know that. I think if the kids could see what I saw when I was working there, things would be different. But I don't think they see these kids as just kids and the kids don't see them as good cops.
"Without that. Without bridging that gap, it's never going to change. I always am trying to figure out how to bridge that gap. With me, trying to change the law, people assume I disconnect with the police and that's not it. I want it to be better for both sides. I don't even want there to be a side. We need law enforcement. It's necessary. But there needs to be a balance and we lost that. I am hoping us working together we can help find that."
The NFL previously announced that players could wear the names of victims of systematic racism on their helmets, and the Steelers players and coaches decided they will all wear Rose's name on the back of their helmets.
Read more about the Steelers decision here.