A handful of NFL players wore patriotic cleats on the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, and in a move that isn’t necessarily consistent with the league’s typical approach, they will not be fined by the NFL, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Tennessee Titans linebacker Avery Williamson, New York Giants wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing and Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee all wore cleats to honor 9/11 victims and first responders during their respective games on Sunday. Falcons receiver Julio Jones wore similar cleats during warmups.
The NFL consistently fines players for uniform elements that don’t fit within the guidelines of the NFL’s strict dress code.
“I just felt like I got so much support across the country, and especially when the New York and New Jersey police unions said that they would pay my fine, that really meant a lot,” Williamson told reporters on Sunday, “I felt like if I didn’t wear them, I just wouldn’t have felt good about it. I felt like I had to do that, just for myself and to represent the people that were lost and the people that do their jobs every day to protect us. I feel like it was just a duty.”
Had Williamson been fined, Titans head coach Mike Mularkey had said he was willing to pay the fine on Williamson’s behalf.
Williamson will auction off the cleats, along with a meet and greet, two VIP tickets to a Titans game and a signed jersey. The proceeds will benefit Operation Warrior Wishes, a nonprofit that provides NFL game day experiences to wounded veterans.
Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz plan to wear special 9/11 cleats for today’s season opener. pic.twitter.com/mt8uciDJ41
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 11, 2016
The NFL has been unflinchingly rigid in its enforcement of the dress code, and has previously drawn criticism for uniform fines. In 2013, then-Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall was fined for wearing green shoes to highlight Mental Health Awareness week.
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