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Roethlisberger honors shooting victims with 'Stronger than hate' cleats

BALTIMORE -- Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wore specialized cleats paying tribute to the Tree of Life synagogue shooting victims during pregame warm-ups Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

Roethlisberger wore the cleats -- which feature the words "Stronger Than Hate" and the Star of David inside the Steelers' logo -- while hugging each teammate during team stretching, his ritual for every game.

On Tuesday, Steelers players and staff members attended the joint funeral of brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal, who were among the 11 killed during the Oct. 27 shooting.

Michele Rosenthal, the sister of the two victims, used to be the Steelers' community relations manager. Roethlisberger was among several players to mention Rosenthal by name after the Steelers' 33-18 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Coach Mike Tomlin lives in the neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, where the shooting took place.

"It was tough, it was crazy tough, especially with Michele and the closeness we have with her," Roethlisberger said last Sunday. "We're thankful for the victory, but we all understand, there are bigger things, there's life."

After Friday's practice, Roethlisberger's equipment bag was packed with two pairs of cleats -- one for the pregame tribute, one black-and-gold pair for game action.

Players typically wear tribute cleats for pregame warm-ups only, or else they face a fine for an NFL uniform violation.