Members of Pittsburgh’s professional sports teams paid tribute to the victims of this weekend’s horrific shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue and helped to raise thousands of dollars for their grieving community.
Two buses filled with 100 members of the Pittsburgh Steelers attended the funerals of two of the victims, brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal, whose sister, Michele Rosenthal, is a former relations manager with the team, according to ESPN.
The brothers are two of the 11 victims (made up of eight men and three women) who were killed on Saturday when a man allegedly armed with three handguns and an AR-15 opened fire on services inside the synagogue. Six others were injured, including four responding police officers.
Cecil and David — who were intellectually disabled — were mourned in a joint funeral at the Rodef Shalom temple on Tuesday.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spoke about the team’s bond with Michele following the team’s win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
“It was tough, it was crazy tough, especially with Michele and the closeness we have with her,” Roethlisberger said of the game. “We’re thankful for the victory, but we all understand, there are bigger things, there’s life. I’m glad we could gift people three hours with a break.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin also addressed the tragedy after the win.
“Our hearts go out to the victims of yesterday’s shooting and just to the Squirrel Hill community and the community of Pittsburgh at large,” Tomlin said in his postgame talk with reporters. “I’m a member of the Squirrel Hill community personally and words cannot express how we feel as members of this community. We’re prayerful.”
Team president Art Rooney II spoke out against the alleged hate crimes in a statement sent out the day after the shooting, which authorities have described as an antisemitic rampage.
“Our hearts are heavy, but we must stand against anti-Semitism and hate crimes of any nature and come together to preserve our values and our community,” Rooney said, as noted by ESPN.
Before their game on Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins held an 11-second moment of silence for the victims, and players placed a “Stronger Than Hate” patch on their jerseys. The opposing team, the New York Islanders, wore the patches as well.
To help raise funds for the Jewish Federation, the Penguins collected money from visitors before the start of the game and donated $25,000 to the organization. They matched that amount in a donation to a fund created for the officers who were hurt during the shooting.
The Islanders beat the Penguins 6-3 on Tuesday, and team captain Sidney Crosby he was disappointed they couldn’t pull out a victory for the city.
“We wanted to go out there and play for them,” Crosby said, according to Fox News. “You try to recognize that and play as hard as you can to show your appreciation. Words are one thing, but you try to go out there and follow it up the same.”
He continued: “We had a lot of different emotions going through our minds to start, but the bottom line is that we wanted to find a way to get a win for a lot of reasons… Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”
The teams will face each other again on Thursday afternoon in New York.