Two police unions have offered to pay the fine of Tennessee Titans linebacker Avery Williamson should he wear custom cleats designed to honor victims of the 9/11 attacks in Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings.
"We read, with understandable interest, your piece on Avery Williamson and the NFL's stance on Avery honoring the September 11th victims," Bobby Egbert, the public information officer for the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, wrote to Jason Wolf of the Tennessean. "We, along with the New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association, are offering to pay any reasonable fine levied by the NFL if Avery chooses to wear his 9/11 cleats."
Williamson, a third-year linebacker out of Kentucky, had planned to wear the airbrushed Nikes for the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. But NFL officials contacted him and said he would be fined if he wore the cleats.
"I don't want to draw negative attention, so I'm just going to focus on playing the game," Williamson told the Tennessean. "Once I heard from them, I didn't even try to argue anything. I just left it alone. I didn't want to press the issue."
The NFL has long been harsh to violators of its uniform code, which restricts players from wearing anything not specifically approved by the league. The league denied the Dallas Cowboys' request to wear a helmet decal honoring the five Dallas policemen who were killed in an act of gun violence in July.
The NFL also fined Pittsburgh Steelers DeAngelo Williams and William Gay last year for violations of the uniform code. Williams wore eye black that supported breast cancer awareness, while Gay's purple cleats were a symbol for domestic violence awareness.
New York Giants receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz will wear patriotic-themed cleats Sunday. Beckham has worn such customized kicks throughout his career but has not faced any (public) punishment from the NFL. It's unclear if he received permission to do so or if there's a difference between his and Williamson's situations.
Williamson is auctioning off his cleats to benefit Operation Warrior Wishes.
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