The NFL is going to let players speak their minds with their feet.
But being the NFL, it’s going to be in a tightly scheduled and pre-approved way, of course.
According to Jonathan Jones of Sports Illustrated, the league is preparing to set aside a one-week window (Week 13) for players to promote a charitable cause of their choice on their cleats and equipment.
That’s a significant step, since the league has always treated its uniforms as sacrosanct.
Naturally, the league wants to make sure the causes advertised on their precious marketing real estate are legitimate, and the players have to auction off the cleats following the game and donate the entire proceedings to the charity.
The league didn’t comment on the report, and has always been willing to fine players for any uniform violations, including attempted patriotic tributes (Like Titans linebacker Avery Williamson’s 9/11 shoes) or charitable causes (such as Brandon Marshall’s green cleats to raise awareness for mental health).
Even extensions of their own causes have drawn fines, including DeAngelo Williams getting fined for writing “Find the Cure” on his eye black, when he was one of the players credited with the league’s breast cancer awareness campaign — which they have co-opted and marketed themselves.
While the league’s allowing one scripted moment of free expression might seem like a step, there’s still the matter of application, as we wait to see which causes are deemed worthy and which are not.