The social justice story in America has many sides, but only one has been the focus since the death of George Floyd while in custody of the Minneapolis Police.
Four months after Floyd’s death, athletes have begun to choose the other side and honor victims such as David Dorn and Davon McNeal.
Dorn was a retired police officer who was shot and killed by a looter during the riots in St. Louis, Missouri, following the death of Floyd.
Stephan Cannon, 24, a suspect in the killing of Dorn, was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, felon in possession of a firearm and three counts of armed criminal action, Fox News reported.
While many NFL teams and players chose to honor victims of police brutality, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ tight end Tyler Eifert chose to put Dorn’s name on the back of his helmet. (RELATED: Jaguars Tight End Wears David Dorn’s Name On His Helmet)
“Great win to start the season,” Eifert captioned a photo of his helmet on Twitter following the game against the Colts on Sunday. “Love being a part of this new team and community! It was honor wearing David Dorns name on my helmet today!”
— Tyler Eifert (@tylereifert) September 14, 2020
The Washington Football Team’s quarterback Dwayne Haskins also chose a different route for his helmet decal during the team’s first game of the season . Haskins chose to honor McNeal, an 11-year-old boy shot and killed in Washington, D.C. Police determined his death to be a result of gang violence. (RELATED: Washington Football Teams’ Dwayne Haskins Wore Helmet Sticker Honoring 11-Year-Old Shot And Killed)
I remember when I was 11, couldn’t imagine losing my life and my family. Prayers up, rest in heaven young king ❤️???? https://t.co/bUISCOoJbF
— Dwayne Haskins, Jr (@dh_simba7) September 11, 2020
“I remember when I was 11, couldn’t imagine losing my life and my family,” Haskins tweeted on Sept. 11 before the game. “Prayers up, rest in heaven young king.”
The FBI’s Universal Crime Report of 2014 showed that the offender in 90% of black Americans homicides was also black, according to ABC News.
The NFL made the decision to allow players to wear decals featuring names or initials of people killed through systemic racism. Players could also choose from four approved phrases which included “Stop Hate,” “It Takes All Of Us,” “End Racism” or “Black Lives Matter.”
There hasn’t been mass agreement on the helmet decals though. Pittsburgh Steelers players have claimed the team was not allowed to vote on the name that went on the back of the helmet. (RELATED: Pittsburgh Steelers Players React After Wearing Name Of Suspected Drive-By Shooter Antwon Rose On Helmets)
Antwon Rose’s name was featured on the back of the team’s helmets during Monday night’s game against the New York Giants. Since then, center Maurkice Pouncey has come forward saying he was given “limited information” on Rose.
“I was given limited information on the situation regarding Antwon, and I was unaware of the whole story surrounding his death and what transpired during the trial following the tragedy,” Pouncey wrote in a statement on Instagram. “I should have done more research to understand what occurred in its entirety.”
Rose was shot and killed by a cop in Pittsburgh.
As previously reported, the shooting of Rose happened on June 19, 2018 after a police officer pulled over the car Rose was riding in because it fit the description of a vehicle allegedly involved in a drive-by shooting, according to The New York Times. While the officer arrested the driver, Rose and another passenger attempted to run, the outlet reported.
The officer ended up shooting Rose in the face, elbow and back, according to The New York Times. Gunshot residue was later discovered on Rose’s hands by the medical examiner’s office, according to 2 CBS Pittsburgh. The officer was later acquitted of all charges.
Pittsburgh’s safety Minkah Fitzpatrick told reporters the decision was made by the “people upstairs” not the team.
“We talked briefly about it, but it was mostly made by people upstairs,” Fitzpatrick said, according to Outkick. “Don’t know exactly who. Don’t know exactly how. We knew we were going to have somebody on the back of our helmets. It wasn’t exactly clear who it was going to be.”
Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva was the first player on the team to decide not to use Rose’s name on his helmet. Instead, Villanueva decided to honor Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, a Silver Star recipient. (RELATED: Alejandro Villanueva Wears The Name Of War Hero Alwyn Cashe On His Helmet)
Steelers LT Alejandro Villanueva has the name Alwyn Cashe on the back of his helmet
Cashe was posthumousky awarded the Silver Star for heroism after his death at 35 while on duty in Iraqhttps://t.co/a4Pbp3UERU had said ALL players’ helmets would have Antwon Rose Jr’s name pic.twitter.com/UMqbxVo6mj
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) September 14, 2020
Cashe was awarded a Silver Star after his death. Cashe suffered second and third-degree burns on 70% of his body after he ran back into a vehicle to save soldiers trapped inside, according to the Associated Press. He died from his injuries on Nov. 8, 2005.
Villanueva himself was a captain in the United States Army and served three tours in Afghanistan before joining the NFL in 2014.
As the season goes on, the shift to honoring the whole story of the fight for social justice in America could be told by the athletes who are willing to go against the masses.