The move has been months in the making, dating back to last season’s scuffles with Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams, defensive lineman Cameron Hayward, and cornerback William Gay. With the league allowing pink and camouflage to infiltrate the uniforms in the months of October and November, respectively, the wheels have been moving toward allowing players to deviate from the standard outfit for their own causes.
But with the report that the deviation will happen in Week 13, whether in cleats or other gear, comes the caveat that the league must give advance approval to the promoted causes.
So which causes will be approved or not approved? Surely, messages relating to all forms of cancer and other health conditions and diseases will be allowed. The situation will be trickier for social or religious causes that could subject the NFL to criticism — either by approving or by rejecting the requests.
Regardless of how or where the league draws the line, players whose requests are denied won’t be happy. They’ll be inclined to question why some causes are approved and others aren’t. Which means that this well-intentioned effort ultimately could backfire on the NFL, legitimizing decisions by players to use their platform to promote causes they deem important and motivating them to point out the perception/reality of unfair treatment when it comes to the messages they hope to send in Week 13, a coincidental numerical choice reflecting the quality of the luck the NFL ultimately may have with this one.