Steelers Not ‘Sticking To Sports’


Matthew Stockman/Getty Images Cameron Heyward #97 and Vince Williams #98 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrate a sack during a 2018 game.

On Friday Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made a statement heard ’round Steelers Nation, telling fans and casual observers that the Steelers ‘stand with’ those who are hurting, saying, in part:

“We are committed to taking action and being a part of the solution to face social injustice and prejudice that we all face, not only in our country, but worldwide. It is our desire to be active participants in the formation of a more perfect union.”

After Friday’s practice was over, Tomlin told the media that the organization collectively wanted to show support for those people protesting social injustice.

Cam Heyward and Vince Williams Speak

Over the weekend two of the team’s veteran leaders—defensive tackle Cameron Heyward and linebacker Vince Williams—talked about the team’s decision to have Tomlin speak on their behalf. The duo went on to explain how the Steelers hope to make an impact in the midst of the social unrest that has followed in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

“We didn’t just want to give a statement. We know and understand that statements do a lot, but it’s not enough,” offered Heyward.

As for the decision to have Tomlin speak on the team’s behalf, Williams said: “We thought that there was nobody better than coach Tomlin to deliver [the message] because of who he is in the NFL and who he is as a person.

“We decided to come together, lock arms and make a stand to show compassion because even though we may be in the NFL and are professional athletes, we are still very sympathetic to everything going on, and we still feel that,” noted the linebacker.

“We’ve seen too many injustices to be silent,” added Heyward. “Our communities hurt day in and day out. We’re left with the question: ‘Why?’ As we are held accountable on the field, we want to be accountable off the field and encourage others to be as well.”

‘Encouraged To Go Into Our Communities’

Vince Williams went on to say that “We’re not just an organization to make brash or bold statements. We are encouraged to actually go into our communities and to take things on a personal approach to them,” he said.

Offensive tackle Zach Banner, for one, took it upon himself to engage in dialogue with and support the Jewish community in the wake of anti-Semitic comments made by Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson during the offseason. Not only was Banner one of the few NFL players to publicly criticize Jackson for his remarks, he has teamed with the Jewish community to fight hate.

“Sometimes people say sports should stay out of politics, politics should stay out of sports,” said Williams. “If you look back at history, that has never been the case. I am encouraged by that. Me being able to talk to people about it and have conversations is going to help. If they are going to listen to me because I am a football player, I am encouraged by that.

Asked how the media can help them use their platform, Heyward said:

“Vince and I come from different communities, but we are going to make a change. We just ask that it’s reported because we want to provide an outlook where we are optimistic about our future, where children see they can be the next Vince Williams, the next Cam Heyward, or they can be a doctor or a police officer. To do that, we are really going to have to see positive changes.”

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