THE NFL RELAXED its normally rigid uniform policy yesterday so players can commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks this weekend.
The move came one day after Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs tweeted that he had expected to be fined for wearing red, white and blue cleats and gloves designed by Reebok. Briggs said it would be “by far the best fine he will ever have to pay.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league does not “anticipate any issues.”
“We have extensive plans for Sunday to respectfully recognize the significance of the day,” Aiello said in an email. “Lance Briggs and all players will participate.”
Briggs declined to comment when he left the practice field Friday. He instead put the shoes on display in the locker room, the back of the left shoe bearing the word “Never,” while the right had “Forget.”
Coach Lovie Smith said he has no problem with Briggs defying the NFL dress code in this instance.
“I mean, we’re going to do an awful lot before the game as an organization — the NFL as a league — to honour the victims,” Smith said. “But you know, if they (the NFL) say it’s OK and the guys are good with it, of course we’re all for it, too.”
Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles also said on Twitter that he plans to wear Reebok-issued gloves and cleats to honor the day.
Like Briggs, Charles posted a picture online. It showed an all-red bottom surface around the cleats beneath a white shoe with large blue stripes wrapped around it and white stars along the heel. The back of the glove is all red, with the words, “Never forget,” circled around the date, 11 September 2001. The palm of the glove is blue, with white stars.
“I never forget,” Charles tweeted.
Charles and Briggs will have some company Sunday.
Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, a five-time Pro Bowler, showed up at Friday’s practice with a stars-and-stripes design on his gloves and shoes. He plans to wear the same accessories Sunday at Houston. Wayne’s teammate and friend, Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea, is expected to don the same attire.
Shortly before the league announced its policy change, Wayne told reporters it would be the “best fine” he ever paid and that he expected the league to alter the policy within 24 hours.
He was right.
Wayne went on to explain why he felt so strongly about wearing the stars-and-stripes during Sunday’s game.
“Think about it man. That’s an important time in our life. A lot of people lost plenty of loved ones,” he said. “It’s in history. Your grandchildren and children after that, they will be hearing about that.
It’s definitely a time where it needs to be recognized, and that’s a way for guys to put their two cents in.
“I’m going to wear it, and wear it proudly.”