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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Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy attends funeral for fallen Chicago Fire Department rescue diver Juan Bucio

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – Chicago Bears first-year head coach Matt Nagy attended the funeral for fallen Chicago Fire Department rescue diver Juan Bucio, who died heroically last week after jumping into the Chicago River to try and save a man who had fallen off a boat.

“I just thought it was important to show support from this organization,” Nagy said on Tuesday. “It was a moment that I’ll never forget, just to see all the support that he had and his family had. It just goes to show you what this city is all about, everybody and how much they care for each other, and how we’re all here for one another. I just felt that was the right thing to do and I’m very glad I did it.”

Bucio, 46, was a 15-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department. Funeral services were held on Monday at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel on Chicago’s south side. Bucio’s family has received an outpouring of support, including from Chicago’s mayor and the Governor of Illinois, who praised Bucio’s sacrifice in the line of duty.

“You remind your players every day of the sacrifice that they’re going through as players,” Nagy said. “It’s a lot of energy, there’s tiredness, there’s feeling sorry for yourself at times. And you talk about a guy like Zach Miller, a guy that almost loses his leg — there’s sacrifices. So I’m not taking anything away from our players at all. But at the same time, you try to put it into perspective into somebody that loses their life trying to save somebody else. That’s real. That’s just the human element, the human side of it.

“There’s a lot of guys on our team that we talked about that situation and it’s hard. This is a city. We’re together. This is everybody. This isn’t about the Chicago Bears or the city; this is all of us together.”

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Funeral mass and jazz funeral profession held for New Orleans Saints, Pelicans owner Tom Benson

NEW ORLEANS — Tom Benson went out in classic New Orleans style.

The New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner was laid to rest Friday with a private funeral mass inside the historic St. Louis Cathedral in front of loved ones and dignitaries such as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

The ceremony was immediately followed by a jazz funeral procession through the French Quarter in front of thousands of onlookers.

Benson’s wife, Gayle, the new owner of both professional sports franchises, waved and blew kisses to the crowd during the emotional march, which was accompanied by a full brass band.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who joined coach Sean Payton, Pelicans star Anthony Davis and general managers Mickey Loomis and Dell Demps among the pallbearers and honorary pallbearers, shared a video of the unique mix of dignitaries, fans and New Orleans culture. Brees added, “Mr. Benson wouldn’t want it any other way. Only in New Orleans. We love you, Mr. B. God bless you.”

Benson died last week at the age of 90 after being hospitalized for flu-like symptoms and spending weeks in the intensive care unit.

The list of attendees who came to pay their respects to Benson was as impressive as you might expect for the man who is widely credited for rescuing both sports franchises for his hometown of New Orleans against the threat of out-of-town ownership moving them away. Benson purchased the Saints in 1985, and he purchased the former New Orleans Hornets in 2012.

Goodell and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue sat next to each other near the front of the church, near Silver, former NBA commissioner David Stern and Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards. Former governor Bobby Jindal and New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu also attended.

Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone and Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace, both former Saints employees, were on hand along with several current and former coaches, players and executives from the Saints and Pelicans, such as Alvin Gentry, Jim Mora, Joe Vitt, Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, Jonathan Vilma, Deuce McAllister, Willie Roaf and Jrue Holiday.

It was a continuation of the outpouring of love and respect that began with a two-day visitation in New Orleans. Gayle and other loved ones spent hours greeting everyone from countless fans to a list of NFL owners that reportedly included Jerry Jones, Dan Snyder, Art Rooney III, Clark Hunt and Jerry Richardson.

Benson’s estranged heirs, whom he denounced before a bitter legal feud in recent years, paid their last respects in a private visitation earlier in the week.

New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond recounted Benson’s life and accomplishments, as well as some of the tragedies he experienced, while giving Benson’s eulogy. He injected several moments of humor, such as when he recounted the time Benson compared rings with Pope Benedict and how often Benson told the story of how he met Gayle.

St. Louis Cathedral is the place where Tom and Gayle first met after a mass in 2004. They were married later that year.

Aymond stressed that Benson was as “rich in faith” and “rich in love” as he was financially wealthy and talked about his deep connection to the Catholic Church and his charitable ways. Aymond said Benson was truly a “New Orleans Saint” and asked the Lord to make him a saint in heaven as well.

“Tom loved the city of New Orleans. And he gave so much to help the city, as he brought the Saints and Pelicans here, as he kept the Saints here in New Orleans as part of the rebuilding after Katrina and as a sign of hope to the city. And in his New Orleans style, he even brought back Dixie Beer and returned it to New Orleans,” Aymond said. “You live on in our hearts. And we promise we will do our very best to keep your spirit and your faith alive.”

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