Yeezy cleats earned a thumbs down. 9/11 tribute cleats got a big thumbs up. Cleats that don’t feature team colors were out, very out. But this week anything goes as far as the NFL is concerned (with advance approval, of course).
After fining players for shoes that don’t comply with the league’s rules about uniforms, Week 13 of the NFL season is here and it’s officially “My Cause, My Cleats” week, one in which players can use their shoes as a blank canvas without being socked with a fine — as long as the NFL approves the cause.
Mike Evans, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver who took a knee to protest the election of Donald Trump as president, will go with a theme about ending racism, as will nine other NFL players. Their golden shoes are part of a “Sideline Racism” initiative by the Ross Initiative in Sports Equality this weekend.
Besides Evans, expect Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston, whose grandmother has diabetes, to bring attention to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Linebacker Kwon Alexander, whose brother was shot to death last year, will convey a message about gun violence.
“Stand Up to Violence” is a popular theme, as are messages about bullying, ending hunger, the Flint water crisis, players’ foundations and other causes.
And some players just want to be creative (and do a little advertising).
This all came to a head earlier this year when players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown pushed the envelope. Brown was fined $9,000 because his blue shoes didn’t align with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ base colors. He was forced to change out of shoes that featured his kids’ faces and shoes that paid tribute to Muhammad Ali.
So hail “My Cause, My Cleats” at least for one week.