Two police union chiefs have slammed the NFL and promised to pay the fine it threatened a player with if he wears a pair of patriotic cleats to honor the victims of 9/11.
Tennessee Titans starting linebacker Avery Williamson planned to wear the specially-designed cleats on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks this Sunday at his team’s home opener against the Minnesota Vikings. But Williamson reconsidered after a representative for the league warned him he would be fined for violating the uniform code.
— Avery Williamson (@AWilliamson54) September 9, 2016
“I don’t want to draw negative attention, so I’m just going to focus on playing the game,” Williamson told The Tennessean on Friday. “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.”
But for Paul Nunziato, head of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, “committed a personal foul against humanity” by not allowing Williamson to wear the special footwear, the New York Post reported.
“I’m making a goal line stand on this. Enough is enough! The NFL is out-of-bounds on this,” Nunziato said. “This guy [Williamson] was hoping to honor everyone who died on 9/11, no matter what their country or color.”
Patrick Colligan, president of the 33,000 member New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, joined Nunziato in inviting Williamson to wear the cleats anyway.
“Paul and I said, ‘Let’s split his fine.’ If he agrees to wear these cleats, we’ll pay whatever fine he gets,” Colligan said, according to the Post. “We want him to wear the cleats and we’ll pay the fine. He was absolutely doing a great thing and the NFL is threatening with a fine? When is Goodell going to recognize what his fan base is?”
According to The Tennessean:
“The star-spangled blue cleats with red- and white-striped Nike swooshes were airbrushed by True Blue Customs in Lexington, Ky. They feature the words “Never Forget” and “9/11” on the back of each shoe, with the “11” representing the Twin Towers. The NFL mandates all teammates wear the same color scheme on their shoes.”
“Here’s a player honoring those who died on 9/11 with a pair of cleats that he had made up himself — it’s not like he’s kneeling during the national anthem or anything,” Colligan said, referring to San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick who refused to stand during the national anthem in a pre-season game.
“Kaepernick can wear ‘pig socks’ and not even garner a response from the NFL, but this guy wants to honor those who tragically died on 9/11 and he’s threatened,” Colligan added.
Williamson has decided to go ahead with plans to auction off the cleats to benefit Operation Warrior Wishes, according to the Tennessean. He is also offering a meet and greet, two VIP tickets to a Titans home game and an autographed jersey.
— Avery Williamson (@AWilliamson54) September 8, 2016