Maurkice Pouncey Apologizes to Police for Wearing the Name of a Kid They Killed on His Helmet

Illustration for article titled Maurkice Pouncey Apologizes to Police for Wearing the Name of a Kid They Killed on His Helmet
Photo: Karl Walter/Pittsburgh Steelers (Getty Images)

Former East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld was forced out of his job as a University of Pittsburgh cop in 2018, found work in the East Pittsburgh police department soon after, killed 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr. his first day on the street—shooting Rose three times in the back while Rose ran from him—and was acquitted of homicide.

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There is no better example of the rot of American law enforcement—and the dire need for drastic change—than this guy. Effectively get fired from a university for incompetence, but still, be able to find a job and the legal license to kill in the sort of boutique municipality police department that would (obviously) hire anyone with a pulse.

Anyway, before the NFL season began, the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to honor Rose by placing his name on the back of their helmets. Whatever. But for Maurkice Pouncey, who is one of the team captains, this aggressively milquetoast gesture was too radical for him.

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In an Instagram post that I’m sincerely shocked hasn’t been deleted yet, Pouncey claimed that he did not “fully comprehend the entire background of the case” and “will make his own decision” on what to wear on the back of his helmet. He concludes with a caption tagging Pittsburgh’s chief of police, the Pittsburgh police department, and two Florida departments (North Miami and Lakeland).

In this 11-sentence-long post, (at least) four of them are lies. The best one begins the second paragraph, where he claims that he was “given limited information” on the “situation regarding Antwon.” No one was “given information” regarding this case. I did not receive an Antwon Rose packet in the mail, and I presume neither did anyone else in Allegheny County. I learned about Antwon Rose the way everyone outside of the Rose family did—either on the news or from someone who saw/read the news. There’s no Minister of Information deciding who’s allowed to see what. If I, or anyone else interested in the case, wanted more information, it was there to be found.

Pouncey is just adopting a performative passivity to convince his friends in law enforcement that he was tricked by people with political agendas. (My favorite lie: “I don’t always feel the need to highlight what I do with police departments” when that’s literally the point of him removing Antwon’s name and writing a manifesto about it.) He’s virtue signaling.

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The Pouncey twins (Mike Pouncey plays for the Miami Dolphins) were also best friends with Aaron Hernandez, who might be the only American who killed more Black people than the police do. And if removing Rose’s name from his helmet was just about not “fully comprehending” the full scope of the story and wanting to “repair relationships between police and their communities,” why was Maurkice still riding so hard for a convicted serial murderer?

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The difference is that his friends in law enforcement believe that supporting Antwon Rose Jr. is an insult to them, and he shares their sensibility. That’s all this is about. If he were sincere about learning more about the case, why not reach out to Antwon’s mom, Michelle Kenney, who’s 10 miles or just a text away? Or, if the word of law enforcement matters so much, Allegheny County DA Stephen Zappala, who admitted that Antwon “never did anything in furtherance of the crimes in North Braddock.”?

These questions are mostly rhetorical. The answers are obvious. Maurkice Pouncey is aligned with the sort of people who believe it’s wrong to protest when police murder Black citizens. But he won’t just come out and say that. So Maurkice Pouncey, behind all those tats and all that muscle, is a fucking coward.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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DISCUSSION

Him and his brother were the same dudes saying Free Aaron Hernandez and supporting him. So you support an accused murder who may have killed three people, but black men doing nothing and  getting shot by cops, you had “ limited info” so you  can’t support that?