One week after the Pittsburgh Steelers remembered the 11 citizens who lost their lives at the hands of Tree of Life Synagogue shooter, Robert D. Bowers, Ben Roethlisberger paid tribute once again on Sunday, November 4, when he took the field wearing custom-made cleats that commemorated the victims.
As was revealed via Twitter by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Roethlisberger came out of the away-team tunnel at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium with a bag bearing two pairs of cleats. Due to league regulations, players are forbidden from entering the field of play with specialized footwear during the game, but they may warm-up with whatever they’d like on their feet. With the city of Pittsburgh still reeling from the heinous attack, he did just that with a pair of white cleats that featured the Star of David over the team logo and the mantra, “stronger than hate” by the toe.
Fans will recall the Steelers initially memorializing those who passed on by observing a moment of silence prior to their Week 8 matchup against the division rival Cleveland Browns. The tragedy hit close to home, not only because it occurred locally – with head coach Mike Tomlin residing nearby the Squirrel Hill quarters where it took place – but because family members of persons close to the organization were included among the slain. In fact, according to Sports Illustrated, several Pittsburgh Steelers players would go on to attend the funerals of Cecil, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54, who were the brothers of the team’s former community relations manager, Michele Rosenthal.
Ben Roethlisberger wearing these cleats today in response to shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue. Roethlisberger and his wife are close to Michele Rosenthal, who worked in Steelers’ community relations and assists with Ben’s foundation. Michele lost two of her brothers in shooting pic.twitter.com/W3UrHDBb6M
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 4, 2018
Eighteen people were injured during the October 27 ambush. Along with the Rosenthals, CNN lists the worshipers who didn’t make it as having included Sulvan Simon, 86; Bernice Simon, 84; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; Rose Mallinger, 97; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 88; Rich Gottfried, 65; Irving Younger, 69; and Joyce Fienberg, 75.
Bowers now stands a good chance of being sentenced to death for the murders. The 46-year-old anti-Semite is facing a range of murder, hate crime, and various other types of charges spanning a 44-count indictment that he has plead not guilty to.
Roethlisberger’s tribute was reminiscent of the “Stronger Than Hate” statement the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team made by wearing patches bearing the saying during their matchup against the New York Islanders at PPG Paints Arena last Tuesday. As was the case with his cleats, the Penguins incorporated the symbolic Star of David on the patch.
CBS reports that the team is now selling the patches to raise funds, with all proceeds going to the victims and their families by way of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.