Should The NFL Allow Players To Wear Patriotic Gloves And Cleats To Honor 9/11 Today?
Just about every American citizen will honor 9/11 in some way today. Because it’s Sunday, some will head to church and pray for the victims of September 11, 2001 as well as their families. Others will gather in public places to hold their own vigils and share remembrances of one of the most tragic days in American history. And the rest will stay at home but keep 9/11 in their thoughts throughout the day. It’s an emotional day, for sure, and a day that will feature its’ fair share of tributes to 9/11.
That goes for the sports world, too. There are a number of different athletes and professional sports leagues that will be holding special ceremonies in honor of 9/11. Major League Baseball teams will wear American flag patches on their fitted caps. A number of college football teams will wear stars and stripes on their helmets. And the National Football League’s 32 teams will wear patches on their jerseys in remembrance of 9/11. But there are a number of individual NFL players who want to honor 9/11 in their own way by wearing red, white, and blue gloves and cleats on the field in addition to the patches.
Initially, that sounded like it was going to be a problem. Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs jumped on Twitter on Friday and announced that he was going to don special gloves and cleats—but also pointed out that he was fully expecting to get fined by the league for doing it. “Reebok great job on these gloves and shoes,” he tweeted. “Looks like I’m getting fined this week. Lol! By far the best fine I will ever have to pay. Thanks.”
You see, the NFL has long had a strict uniform policy in place that doesn’t allow players much wiggle room. As a result, players are routinely fined for failing to wear the proper gloves and cleats. A few years back, Chad Ochocinco was fined $20,000 for wearing gold Reebok cleats during a game. Peyton Manning was also threatened with a $25,000 fine when he expressed his intention to wear black high-tops during a game to honor Johnny Unitas. But, is the NFL really that strict that they have to fine guys for trying to do their part in honoring 9/11?
As it turns out, they aren’t. After some early speculation, Briggs was given permission to wear his patriotic gloves and cleats. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said that the league doesn’t “anticipate any issues” involving uniforms on Sunday and, in doing so, he essentially cleared the way for other players like Matt Hasselback and Jamaal Charles, who have expressed their intent to wear red, white, and blue during the game, to do so. But, is that the right move? Should the NFL stand by and allow players to essentially wear what they want today? Won’t that create chaos and open up Pandora’s Box, as ESPN’s Skip Bayless suggested on Friday morning’s episode of First Take?
Yes, yes, and no. Under normal circumstances, I would agree with Bayless and many others who say that by allowing Briggs and other NFL players to alter the dress code this week, the NFL is opening themselves up to disputes over the dress code moving forward. However, these are obviously special circumstances. The entire country will be thinking about, praying about, and talking about 9/11. So it should go without saying that NFL players should be allowed to take part in the remembrance by honoring 9/11 in whatever way they see fit. And if that includes changing up their usual uniform a bit, so be it.
As I said, though, this is a special circumstance. Moving forward, the NFL should return to their strict ways and fine players at will for violating their dress code. But for one day on one weekend ten years after the saddest day in recent American history, the NFL should back off and let Lance Briggs and other players wear what they want to honor 9/11. It’s the right move to make—and we’re glad that it looks like the NFL is making it.