The truth is that he’s not being singled out. In fact, he received a certain amount of lenience on Sunday.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, league officials decided to give Beckham and teammate Jarvis Landry until halftime of Sunday’s game against the Broncos to switch from non-conforming cleats to those that comply with the current guidelines, despite the plain language of the applicable rule. Technically, the change should have been mandated during the first half of the game.
For any uniform violation that does not impact safety or competitive issues “that is discovered while the player is in the game, player will be advised to make appropriate correction at the next change of possession; if the violation is not corrected, player will not be permitted to enter the game.” Thus, Beckham and Landry could have been (and technically should have been) told to change their cleats not at the half but during the first change of possession after the non-conforming cleats were detected.
The rules regarding footwear are simple: Players can don “shoes that are black, white, or any Constitutional team color, or any combination of black, white, and a Constitutional team color.” This gives players more flexibility than they used to enjoy, and Beckham, Landry, and all other players know or should know the rules.
The teams also know or should know the rules. And if equipment managers are reluctant to tell players what they don’t want to hear, teams run the risk of players being told during a game that they must change shoes or they won’t be allowed to continue to play.
Although Browns coach Freddie Kitchens on Monday insisted that the issue isn’t a sign of dysfunction, it necessarily is. A functional organization doesn’t have to screw around with issues like this during a game. Case in point: Something like this never has happened, and never will happen, with Bill Belichick’s Patriots.
Beckham may want to keep that in mind as he continues to not-so-privately pine for a chance to play in New England.