Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey wore a sticker on his helmet in Week 2 to honor fallen police officer Eric Kelly, breaking from the team’s tribute that drew controversy in Week 1.
When Pittsburgh opened its season, the team held a sign during the national anthem that called for an end to racism. However, the organization decided to have every player wear a sticker with Antwon Rose Jr’s name that drew backlash from many fans.
Rose Jr. was killed by a Pittsburgh police officer in June 2018 and the Steelers’ organization chose him as the one players would honor as part of league-wide protests over police brutality.
As more information came out about the shooting, with Rose being in the car during a drive-by-shooting minutes before he was shot in the back, Pouncey released a statement after Week 1 apologizing. On Sunday, he followed that up with his own dedication.
Maurkice Pouncey wears Eric Kelly’s name on helmet
When the Steelers took the field in Week 2, their offensive captain had a different name on his helmet. As first reported by The Tribune-Review‘s Joe Rutter, Pouncey had Eric Kelly’s name on the back of his helmet.
Kelly, a Black police officer with Pittsburgh’s police department, was killed in the line of duty in 2009. According to his memorial page, the 41-year-old just finished his shift and was driving home from work when he overheard a call on the radio for officers needing assistance at a shooting.
He responded immediately, driving to the scene with the hope of helping his fellow officers. Tragically, he was shot after exiting the vehicle and later passed away. The shooter was arrested a short time later and was sentenced to death in 2011.
Kelly previously served in the United States Marines Corps before becoming a police officer. He served on Pittsburgh’s police department for 14 years, before his end of watch on April 4, 2009.
Pouncey, the Steelers’ nominee for the 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, has played a prominent role in helping the community and working with law enforcement. In each of the past three seasons, he donated tickets to Steelers’ home games for Pittsburgh Police to take youth groups to NFL games.
The NFL changed its rules this season to allow players to honor victims of police brutality and officers killed in the line of duty.