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Pittsburgh Steelers attend funeral for brothers killed in Tree of Life Synagogue shooting


Two buses of Steelers players and staff attended the joint funeral on Tuesday for brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal, who were killed in the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting on Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Michele Rosenthal, the sister of the two victims, used to be the Steelers’ community relations manager. Several players mentioned Rosenthal by name after the Steelers’ 33-18 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

“It was tough, it was crazy tough, especially with Michele and the closeness we have with her,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “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 coach Mike Tomlin on Sunday said he was “a member of the Squirrel Hill community” and that “words cannot express how we feel.”

More than 1,000 people poured into Rodef Shalom — one of Pittsburgh’s largest synagogues — to mourn the two intellectually disabled brothers who were killed in the massacre that left 11 dead in the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. Members of the team took two buses to the funeral, and the Steelers moved Tomlin’s weekly news conference from noon to 1 p.m. so that he could attend.

The Rosenthal family had asked media and the public to respect their privacy at the Rodef Shalom Temple as they mourned the passing of their loved ones.

The Steelers held a moment of silence before Sunday’s game, and Tomlin addressed the tragedy during a Saturday night meeting with his team. In pregame warm-ups, defensive end Cam Heyward wore a T-shirt featuring a heart around the word “Pittsburgh.” “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,” said team president Art Rooney II in a statement issued Sunday morning.

Prior to Tuesday night’s 6-3 loss to the visiting Islanders, the Penguins observed 11 seconds of silence for the 11 killed in the shooting. Three members of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh stood with Jeff Jimerson as he sang the national anthem and the puck drop featured Pittsburgh’s police chief, its public safety director and two first responders, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Prior to the game, the Penguins collected money at all three gates and the team’s foundation donated $25,000 apiece to the Jewish Federation and to a fund established to benefit police officers injured in the shooting. On Monday, the team held a blood drive.

Penguins players wore “Stronger Than Hate” patches and their sweaters will be auctioned after the game. The team is also donating its share of the 50/50 raffle.

Sidney Crosby, who scored late in the first period to forge a 2-2 tie after the Panthers fell behind 2-0, said the victims were on his mind.

“We wanted to go out there and play for them,” Crosby said. “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.”

Crosby had hoped for a better result.

“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,” Crosby said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”

Information from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and The Associated was used in this report.





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Edmunds brothers ready to graduate from Virginia Tech to the NFL


There’s a story Cookie Edmunds likes to tell about her youngest son’s first taste of football. She was watching Tremaine Edmunds toddle around along the sideline of a Pee-Wee game that featured his two older brothers. He loved the action, and after watching a few plays, he found his mother and offered a proclamation.

“I can’t wait to play football,” he told her, “so I can knock somebody’s head off.”

That proved to be a pretty accurate prediction for how Tremaine Edmunds’ football career would unfold, from stardom in high school to a career at Virginia Tech that saw him emerge as one of the most fearsome defenders in the country.

Now, some 15 years after telling his mother of his plans for the future, Edmunds is about to reach the pinnacle — a likely first-round draft pick and potentially the first linebacker off the board, according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

“It just shows you how long I’ve been working and how long I’ve been wanting this,” Edmunds said. “Now, getting to this stage, it means so much to me.”

Of course, the anecdote also captures the other part of what has defined Edmunds’ career. His older brothers, Trey and Terrell, were the ones on the field that day. Years later, the three would be on the field together at Virginia Tech. The past two years, Terrell and Tremaine have been the anchors of the Hokies’ defense together. (Terrell is a year older, but each had a year of eligibility remaining.)

And now, with Terrell projected as a midround selection, the odds are all three will be on an NFL roster when the new season begins this fall.

Even in a football-obsessed household, that seems a bit surreal, Tremaine said.

“It’s really crazy,” he said. “We’ve all dreamed of it, and now here we are. We’re blessed and thankful for the opportunity, but we’re going to compete. That’s for sure.”

Trey played running back for the Hokies and Maryland, and while he wasn’t drafted out of college, he caught on with the Saints last season and played in all 16 games.

Terrell blossomed into one of the ACC’s top safeties at Virginia Tech, racking up nearly 150 tackles over the past two seasons.

Then there’s Tremaine, who at 6-foot-5, 253 pounds, emerged as a legitimate star, finishing last season with 109 tackles, including 14 for a loss.

“I always knew I was a big-time player, and I’m glad other people are seeing that, as well,” Tremaine said.

That made Tremaine’s decision to leave Virginia Tech early an easy one. Terrell said he was confident doing the same. And while both had some pangs of guilt, passing up one last chance to play together, they insist that didn’t factor into their ultimate choice.

“Playing against your brothers at the highest level possible, going out and talking a bunch of junk to them, doing what you’ve done your entire life but doing it on a national stage, that’s what it’s all about.”

Terrell Edmunds

“He made his decision, I made mine,” Tremaine said.

In the aftermath, they’ve worked closely during training, but that’s where most of the camaraderie has ended. There has been no overlap with visits to different teams, and while they’ve relied on some advice from Trey, they haven’t spent much time talking about the draft. It has been all business, which is a strange twist from how they grew up.

The past few months have been a whirlwind, and the brothers haven’t seen nearly enough of each other. Tremaine was headed back to Virginia Tech’s campus earlier this week to unwind a bit. They have plans, however, to all be in Arlington, Texas, together — along with Cookie and their father, Ferrell, who also enjoyed a distinguished NFL career — for the draft.

Tremaine’s name will be called first, and the family is eager to celebrate together. Terrell said he’s still hoping to upstage his brother with a fresher look; they’ve been shopping for the right suit. At some point in the weekend, Terrell’s name will be called, too, and then things will be forever changed.

Odds are, there will be three Edmunds brothers on three different teams, and for a family that has always been close and always bonded over football, that’s a big transition.

But it’s also a big opportunity — one they’ve been waiting a long time to enjoy.

“It’s going to be crazy, but also an exciting moment,” Terrell said. “Playing against your brothers at the highest level possible, going out and talking a bunch of junk to them, doing what you’ve done your entire life but doing it on a national stage, that’s what it’s all about.”



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