Given past accounts of NFL players being instructed to remove non-conforming shoes, some have wondered why the league didn’t direct Kamara to change his mismatched green and red Christmas cleats during Friday’s six-touchdown day against the Vikings. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the rules mandate removal or the threat of removal only when the equipment violation presents a safety risk.
If helmets, thigh pads, knee pads, shoulder pads, eye shields, and/or facemasks fail to comply with the equipment rules, the player will be removed from play until the situation is rectified. For other uniform violations, the rules contemplate that the officials won’t intervene, and that the remedy will come from the standard disciplinary process.
As to cleats, a branding issue (for example, if the shoe shows the logo of a company that hasn’t paid for the privilege of outfitting NFL players) also could prompt a directive to change the shoes.
Kamara’s shoes presented neither a safety issue not a branding problem. Thus, he was allowed to wear them, even if he eventually will be making a contribution to the NFL’s equivalent of the Human Fund.
It all makes sense but, unless the rule changed between 2019 and 2020, the handling of Kamara’s cleats conflicts with the league’s handling of non-conforming footwear won in 2019 by Browns receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Beckham and Landry were instructed to change to conforming cleats by the start of the second half. Kamara was allowed to wear shoes that went jingle jangle jingle for the entirety of the game.
Absent a rule change, Beckham’s past complaint that a different standard applies to him has some merit. Regardless, Kamara got to wear his holiday shoes of choice on Friday — and the outcome surely made it worth whatever the fine will be.