The NFL is getting torn apart again in the media… in other news, the sky is blue, water is wet, and pigs still cannot fly. But seriously, this time the controversy is over uniforms and accessories. Both DeAngelo Williams and Cameron Heyward want to honor their parents through accessories on the field. And for once, I don’t think they’re completely wrong.
DeAngelo Williams lost his mother to breast cancer. He has been wearing pink accessories, like arm sleeves and wrist bands, while dying his dreadlocks pink. That’s fine and good now, because it’s October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month. He asked the NFL for permission to continue to wear the accessories after October ends, and he was denied. It goes against the uniform policy, which states that one’s accessories must either be neutral in color, or match the team colors.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with that explanation. I think there’s other ways that you can honor someone in a subtler way. I’m not a stickler or anything like that, but if you let one thing go, all of the sudden, the rules carry less significance. Rules are rules. The team pays you millions of dollars to wear their colors and represent them on the field through your play. I think cleats with inscriptions or eye black stickers are fine (as you’ll read later though, the NFL disagrees with me), because they’re subtler. Williams has since decided to pay for 53 mammograms across the U.S. per year, in honor of each year his mother was on earth. This is honestly a much better way to honor his mother, especially given that he has the means to do so.
Cameron Heyward, on the other hand, confuses me. He honored his late father with eye black stickers, which are a common thing in football. We’ve all seen Tim Tebow wear his John 3:16 stickers, and more recently, Devon Still wearing “Leah Strong” stickers in support of his daughter. Neither were fined. The precedent was set- the NFL let those go and deemed them okay.
Heyward’s stickers said “Ironhead”, which was his father’s nickname. To me, as long as they’re free of cusses, slurs, or anything that is overly controversial, I’m fine with them. They’re not extremely noticeable unless the camera is zoomed in. While I think there should be uniformity among teams in terms of dress, I believe in some personalization, and that’s a good way to do it.
Forget about pro sports for one minute. In the realm of the business world, like literally any line of business in the country, the National Football League might have the worst public relations out there. They’re awful. They send mixed messages. The reason I’m okay with them denying Williams permission is because they set that precedent. Heyward’s case is a situation where they changed their minds. If they want to go that route, fine, but you shouldn’t have okayed Tebow and Still. The NFL needs to cut out the BS, and get themselves someone to clean up their PR.