As custom cleats are becoming more prominent in the NFL, there's an influx of players choosing to use their footwear to bring attention to social issues and causes that they hold close. Unfortunately, wearing colorful cleats to raise awareness in a game often draws a fine from the NFL, as it has for Brandon Marshall (Mental Health) and William Gay (Domestic Violence). However, the NFL is showing just a little bit of willingness to compromise with a new one-week leniency plan.
According to USA Today, the NFL will permit players like Marshall and Gay to wear cleats of their choosing to champion a cause that they're passionate about during Week 13. With nearly two months to go, the league reports that 428 players have already signed up to wear cleats representing an issue of their choosing.
This past weekend, DeSean Jackson made headlines for wearing cleats protesting police brutality in a game against the Cleveland Browns. The NFL, who hasn't fined Jackson for the cleats yet, wants to make it clear that the new policy isn't their response to the media buzz surrounding protests during the national anthem.
“That’s not the case at all. This is an opportunity we’ve been talking about and planning for more than a year," Anna Isaacson, NFL senior vice president of social responsibility, told USA Today. There are hundreds of players throughout the NFL who are deeply passionate about their causes and charities, and we’ve heard directly from them asking if there could be an opportunity to give some life to the causes they care about. So we asked ourselves, how can we showcase what these players are passionate about, the causes and charities they are interested in?”
Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, a member of the Jordan Brand, has already confirmed that he'll be wearing red cleats featuring the logo of his Defending Dreams Foundation, which works with children in need.