Pitt head football coach Pat Narduzzi announced on Thursday that the Panthers will wear helmet stickers with “A.O.” on them in honor of former Pitt offensive lineman Alex Officer during his battle with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Officer was diagnosed last month.
“On our helmets, we’re going to have a big ol’ sticker with ‘A.O.’ on it for Alex Officer,” Narduzzi said during a press briefing. “It’ll be a special sticker for him, in honor of him, so we can keep him in our thoughts as we run on that field. So we’ll be thinking about A.O.”
Narduzzi, who described Officer as a “forever Panther” last month, shared a photo of a Pitt helmet with the “A.O.” sticker via Twitter.
News of Officer’s battle with cancer broke last month, when the former Pitt lineman’s brother Jerome Lewis reached out on his behalf to begin raising funds for his treatment on GoFundMe. Lewis noted that the family hoped to raise $100,000 to help with Officer’s medical expenses, and in a day, over $30,000 had been raised. As of Thursday, the total raised sat at $49,779.
Lewis provided an update on Officer’s status on Monday.
“Today starts the final phase in Round 1,” he said. “What [chemotherapy] does to your body is crazy, but Alex is a true fighter. There are good and bad days but he remains positive every day. He started losing his hair this past week, but hey, it’s beanie season! And that’s the overall attitude. We are all going about this with [positivity].”
During his time at Pitt, Officer was a four-year starter who shifted between center and guard on the offensive line. After redshirting in 2013, he played in all 51 of Pitt’s games between 2014 and 2017. He was part of a Panthers offense anchored by Nathan Peterman and James Conner that ranked 10th in the nation in points per game in 2016, averaging 40.9.
Although he went undrafted after graduating, Officer spent time with both the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs over the summer but did not earn a role on either team.
Pitt will don the stickers honoring Officer in their matchup with Duke this Saturday at Heinz Field, with kickoff set for 3:30 p.m. ET. Those who wish to contribute to Officer’s fund can do so at https://www.gofundme.com/letsgoao.