As you’ve probably heard by now, Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams, whose mother and aunts died from breast cancer, wanted to keep wearing pink accessories even after Pinktober ended but was told by the league that he can’t because it would violate the league’s uniform policy.
The NFL is taking a lot of abuse for this one (and they brought it on themselves, as I’ll get to in a sec), but I think they made the right call here. Even if your heart is in the right place and you’re advocating for a good cause, that shouldn’t mean you automatically get to turn your uniform into a season-long soapbox. If they let Williams do it, they’d be priming the pump for other players to start wearing cause-specific accessories. The resulting clusterfuck of advocacy would quickly become unwatchable. I don’t blame Williams for asking — on the contrary, I applaud his intentions and feel for the loss of his family members — but the answer had to be no.
Still, the optics here make the NFL look bad, and they have nobody but themselves to blame for that. They’re the ones who’ve brought cause-based gear to the fore with Pinktober and G.I. Joevember, and they’re the ones who’ve encouraged players to wear as many pink accessories as possible. So they shouldn’t be surprised when a player wants to take things a bit further. If they hadn’t dabbled with uniform soapboxing to begin with — which they shouldn’t have — they wouldn’t be dealing with this latest PR snafu now.
Meanwhile, here’s something interesting from reader David Dyte: Deadspin’s take on this story included some quotes from the NFL’s equipment rules, which included some stipulations I wasn’t aware of (emphasis mine):
[P]layers are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or otherwise conveying personal messages either in writing or illustration, unless such message has been approved in advance by the League office. Items to celebrate anniversaries or memorable events, or to honor or commemorate individuals, such as helmet decals, and arm bands and jersey patches on players’ uniforms, are prohibited unless approved in advance by the League office. All such items must relate to team or League events or personages. The League will not grant permission for any club or player to wear, display, or otherwise convey messages, through helmet decals, arm bands, jersey patches, or other items affixed to game uniforms or equipment, which relate to political activities or causes, other non-football events, causes or campaigns, or charitable causes or campaigns. Further, such armbands and jersey patches must be modest in size, tasteful, noncommercial, and non-controversial; must not be worn for more than one football season; and if approved for use by a specific team, must not be worn by players on other teams in the League.
The sections that I italicized all seem to have been violated in the fairly recent past. For example:
• “All such [patches or decals] must relate to team or League events or personages ”¦ [and cannot be for] non-football events”: This policy has been violated several times, such as when teams wore memorial decals after the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012, or when the Broncos wore decals for victims of the 2012 Aurora shootings and Colorado wildfires, among other examples.
• “[Patches or decals] must not be worn for more than one football season”: Someone must not have told the Lions (who are currently wearing their William Ford memorial patch for the second consecutive season) or the Bears, Chiefs, or Raiders (who have perma-morials for George Halas, Lamar Hunt, and Al Davis, respectively).
• “[Patches or decals for a specific team] must not be worn by players on other teams in the League”: After Washington safety Sean Taylor died in 2007, players throughout the league — not just on Washington — wore “21” decals.
My point here is not to play “gotcha.” Rather, it’s just to point out the existence of these supposedly official policies, which I hadn’t been aware of. Seems like they’re not enforced all that stringently.
T-Shirt Club reminder: In case you missed it yesterday, the Uni Watch T-Shirt Club’s latest offering — the amazing tequila sunrise design — is now available for ordering. Judging by the very robust first day’s sales, this one will likely be our No. 2 seller of the year, and might even challenge April’s shirt (the Jackie Robinson design) for the top spot. Glad you folks seem to like this one as much as I do.
As I explained a few weeks back, the design and production issues on this one were fairly complex, so we decided to have some samples made — so much better than just having a mock-up. Check it out (click to enlarge):
Design contest reminder: In case you missed it over the weekend, Phil announced a new design contest to repaint an old ambulance and tranform it into a Detroit Lions tailgating vehicle. It’s a great challenge, and there will be prizes for the winners. Get the full story here.
Baseball News: Pretty cool series of illustrations of what fans wore to Wrigley the other night. ”¦ In the wake of two Kansas City firefighters being killed on the job earlier this week, the Royals will wear KCFD BP caps prior to today’s ALDS rubber game.
NFL News: The Eagles will go mono-black next Monday night. ”¦ The Packers’ new throwbacks will make their on-field debut this Sunday. ”¦ The Vikings have had the same stitcher for 46 years! Here’s a video segment on her (from Jack Gambro). ”¦ Taylor Wynn says he’s never seen this Falcons special teams logo before, and neither have I. Additional info in this discussion thread.
College and High School Football News: Here’s a gallery of western Massachusetts high school football helmets (thanks, Phil). ”¦ New homecoming uniforms for Georgia Southern. ”¦ Someone at a Jeb Bush campaign event had a very SEC-style Jeb sign (good one from Tim Cross). ”¦ Researchers at Simon Fraser University in Canada have come up with a new anti-concussion innovation. ”¦ New helmet this week for Arkansas State. ”¦ More info on Ohio State’s BFBS uniforms. Spoiler alert: The whole thing was Nike’s idea. Stunner. Still more info here (thanks, Phil).
NBA News: Some sort of new uni apparently in the works for the Spurs. ”¦ We’ve known for nearly three months now — since that big leak-o-rama in late July — that the Cavs will have a sleeved BFBS alt this season. Now Conrad Burry has provided a clearer mock-up.
College Hoops News: New uniforms for Fordham (from Pat Costello). ”¦ If you’re a fan of those meaningless slogans that some teams put on the inner collar where nobody can see them, then you’ll love the new UVA uniforms (from Thomas R.).
Soccer News: Excellent infographic comparing time/motion dynamics in soccer to other sports. Recommended. ”¦ Here’s a site that has takes on MLS jerseys inspired by Latino players on certain teams. “Interesting concept, mostly awful results,” says Markus Kamp. ”¦ There’s a report that the U.S. men’s national team will be going BFBS in 2016 (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Customized cleats for Romelu Lukaku of Belgium. ”¦ New away jerseys for Denmark and Russia.
Grab Bag: A 1905 New Zealand All Blacks jersey has set the record for the highest auction price ever paid for a rugby jersey. ”¦ Chance Michaels was on a New York City subway and spotted a cop whose badge and collar insignia appeared to have been spray-painted pink. ”¦ Neckwear for dummies: Marty Hick (who, to be clear, is no dummy) has a tie that actually has instructions regarding which color it should be worn with. Never seen that before. ”¦ Also from Marty: Check out the awesome sweater that Billy the Kid wore while playing croquet. ”¦ @Chesterfield359 recently wore the Uni Watch T-Shirt Club’s July/”Pandering” design onstage with his band. By nice coincidence, that club is just a few blocks from my house. ”¦ If you’re a guy, you’re all too familiar with the need to occasionally make “an adjustment” just south of the waistline. Now an undergarment company claims to have come up with a product line that addresses that problem. Personally, I’m skeptical — just as nobody will ever make shaving any less annoying or irritating, nobody will ever solve the eternal problem of the adjustment (blame Tommy Turner). ”¦ Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a huge fan of tomboys. Most of my girlfriends have been tomboys, many of my female friends are tomboys, and I’ve had crushes on more tomboys than I can count (many of whom turned out to be gay, which is an occupational hazard if you have a thing for tomboys). So it’s disappointing to hear that tomboyism, and even the term “tomboy,” is apparently no longer in vogue. Then again, that’s a New York Times style/fashion piece, which means it’s probably wrong. ”¦ Navy Adm. John Richardson had a meeting with several hundred sailors the other day, during which he discussed, among other things, flame-resistant uniforms.