The National Football League made somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 billion last season. Those dimes collected were from ticket sales and TV rights and apparel and you name it.
During the month of October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month), the NFL makes hundreds of products in the color pink and expects players to wear them. Oh and they expect you and I to buy them. Many of us did – in fact we bought them in droves.
Then we found out just how little the NFL actually donates to the cause and now it has gotten worse. Two Steelers’ players who both lost parents to cancer were smacked down by the league in their concerted effort to make sure “everyone does the same thing.”
DeAngelo Williams, who lost his mother in 2014 to breast cancer, asked the NFL if he could wear pink shoes all season and he was denied. Cam Heyward, who lost his father to cancer, was fined by the NFL for writing his father’s nickname, “Iron Head” on his eye black.
I find it incredibly interesting that the NFL goes out of its’ way to make breast cancer awareness a major priority throughout October but when an individual player wants to prioritize it he is penalized. To be fair, I understand why the NFL has rules about how players should dress.
The league sees itself as the exact opposite of the NBA where individualism is prized. The NFL chooses to put teams ahead of players and whether we like it or not, it’s been fairly successful. Still, the NFL far too often contradicts itself in its’ quest for uniformity across the league.
Rather than flat-out deny Williams’ request, the NFL could have met him halfway. Instead of all pink shoes perhaps they could comprised on something a little less obvious than shoes. Heyward’s case is actually stronger in my opinion because it does little to promote himself ahead of the team.
The league’s stance on his eye black stems back to the days of Chicago’s Jim McMahon wearing headbands with then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s name on them. What makes Heyward’s situation different is that he was not trying to draw attention to himself and I don’t believe Williams was either.
Remember, this is the NFL where you can’t celebrate “too much” when scoring a touchdown and where you can’t celebrate “too much” when sacking a quarterback. I think we all understand why the NFL has the policies that it does but sometimes common sense has to be applied from time to time.
photo courtesy cbssports.com