Somebody got to Maurkice Pouncey.
Somehow, some way, someone confronted the Pittsburgh Steelers center with the truth, and it was jarring to him. The truth was so disturbing that he said he could no longer wear the name on his helmet of a Black teenager who he'd been told was just another victim at the hands of a white police officer.
The Steelers team, perhaps in deference to the 70% of National Football League players who are Black, accepted the word of the Black Lives Matter movement about teenager Antwon Rose and, as part the league's social justice initiative, slapped his name on the back of their helmets for the 2020-2021 season.
But someone got to Pouncey, who is Black.
"I was given limited information on the situation regarding Antwon," he wrote on an Instagram post, "and I was unaware of the whole story surrounding his death and what transpired during the trial following the tragedy. I should have done more research to fully understand what occurred in its entirety."
Rose, 17, was shot in 2018 after he ran from a vehicle in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that had been pulled over in connection with a near-fatal drive-by shooting about 10 minutes earlier. Video taken by a bystander to the shooting showed Rose in the front passenger seat and another man in the back seat shooting at a man outside the car. The man, William Ross, told investigators the "beef" was between himself and Rose, and that Rose shot him.
Although the suspect was unarmed when he was shot by the officer, Michael Rosfield, he had gun residue on his hands and an empty magazine in his pocket. A gun with his DNA on it was found in the car.
The police officer was found not guilty on all charges in the death, including potential lesser offenses of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. The jury in the trial, according to the Daily Wire, had several non-white members, including a Black foreman.
Pouncey, to the best of our knowledge, didn't suddenly become a traitor to his race, didn't suddenly determine that Blue Lives Matter more than Black Lives Matter and didn't suddenly become a convert of President Donald Trump, who is often blamed for all police shootings, all big-city violence and all 190,000-plus U.S. deaths from the novel coronavirus.
Indeed, his Instagram post stated that he believed "systematic racism issues have occurred in our country for too long" and need to stop.
No, somebody evidently turned Pouncey on to the facts in the Rose case, and he determined for himself that the teenager was no martyred innocent victim.
We wonder, in this case and others, what it takes for individuals to overcome their ingrained racial, culture and political biases and see truth.
* For instance, what would it take for the Black Lives Matter movement to acknowledge the lie that became the symbol of the lack of trust between Blacks and law enforcement — the 2014 Michael Brown incident in Ferguson, Missouri, in which it was alleged that Brown was surrendering to police with his hands up when he was shot?
The Obama Justice Department — not the Trump Justice Department — concluded that Brown did not surrender with his hands up, and that officer Darren Wilson was justified in shooting him.
* What would it take for Democrats to admit they have intentionally twisted Trump's words about protests at a 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia, rally to make it appear he supported racists and white supremacists, and that they have continually peddled that lie to the American people?
The president, when asked at a news conference about the protests, said in a long discussion that there "were very fine people on both sides," referring to people who had strong feelings about the removal of a monument of a Civil War figure. In the same discussion, he referred to "a lot of bad people in the other group" and said "neo-Nazis and the white supremacists" should be condemned totally."
* What would it take for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who in a recent interview said he'd "never" broken his word, to refrain from making such wildly inaccurate statements like "all the people [who contracted the coronavirus] would still be alive" if Trump had done his job?
Biden's own record on the virus displays, among other things, numerous flip-flops and criticisms of actions the president took that experts now say saved thousands of lives.
But back to Pouncey. Whether someone — teammate Alejandro Villanueva had previously opted out of wearing Rose's name in favor of an Army sergeant who died in Iraq in 2005 while trying to save his fellow servicemen — got to him with the truth, or whether he learned it on his own, he displayed courage in being willing to stand against the crowd because it was the right thing to do.
If more Americans followed that example every day, imagine how our land might be healed.