Will Villanueva's Helmet Controversy Affect The Locker Room?

The offensive lineman

Will Alejandro Villanueva's decision to wear the name of fallen war hero Alwyn Cashe on the back of his helmet while the rest of his teammates wore the name of police shooting victim Antwon Rose Jr. cause dissension in the locker room?

The PM Team's Andrew Fillipponi said he didn't want to talk about the issue but if it affects the team, they have to talk about it.

Both quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and defensive tackle Cam Heyward both said they were unaware of Villanueva's decision with Heyward saying he was "surprised" by the move.

Coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that he did speak with Villanueva before the game about his decision on Monday, but Chris Mueller questions if Tomlin was covering for his O-lineman.

For months, the team said they would address social justice issues together as a team, but once again Villanueva deviated from the plan.

Back in 2017, Villanueva apologized after he was seen alone at the end of the tunnel, while the rest of the team waiting further inside during the National Anthem.

Villanueva severed three tours of duty in Afghanistan as and Army Ranger and received a Bronze Star for valor during his service.

The Steelers insider Mark Kaboly tells Poni and Mueller that Villanueva is the only Steeler that hasn't spoke to the media this season other than the kicker and punter.

Kaboly says Villanueva can be a "little too honest" sometimes and probably doesn't want to talk with media.

Kaboly adds he supports players expressing themselves and we need more free speech but questions why Villanueva didn't wait a week to put Cashe's name on his helmet and that he had to know the move would cause an issue.

Kaboy says he believes he's already had a discussion with his teammates and that it will be easier to keep it from being a big story because the Steelers control who speak to the media the season due to COVID restrictions.

"I don't know if it was yesterday, today, whenever, there was probably some very interesting conversations between some people in that locker room and Al," said Kaboly.

Former Steeler Arthur Moats told the PM Team on Tuesday that when a player goes off and does their own thing, it can cause dissension within the locker room.

"I wonder about the ripple effects in the Steelers' locker room," said Poni. "This is getting turned into an issue and it's something the Steelers are going to have to spend time on and . . . you don't want when you're installing your game plan on a Wednesday for something team related to take your focus off of football."

While there could be a  discussion on if the team should've announced a united front or just let each player make their own decisions (maybe some players just wanted "Steelers" on the back of their helmet and don't want to make a political statement) but the team did agree they would have have the same message, and right or wrong, Villanueva deviated from that.