The fine folks in New York City who work at the NFL league offices might be experiencing something a bit unusual - a collective sigh of relief from the players who have been repeatedly fined for the dumbest reasons the past few seasons.
Earlier this offseason, the league announced they are loosening up the reins on player celebrations. Antonio Brown of the Steelers was extremely excited and told reporters he has several ideas he is conjuring up, many of which involve the offensive line. Now, per a memo sent out to the league on Monday, the NFL is relaxing their stance on uniform violations, starting with cleats worn by players.
Players will be allowed to wear more personalized cleats for pre-game prior to warm-ups and will have greater flexibility on cleat color worn during the game, according to a memo sent out by the league on Monday to head coaches and equipment managers and obtained by ESPN.
During pregame warm-ups, players can wear any design they want, so long as it doesn't depict commercialized or trademarked logos, other than the league-approved footwear brands (Nike, Under Armour and Adidas). The cleats also can't have anything that would be deemed offensive or express political views.
So, the league still can slap a fine on players if they view the shoes to be “offensive” or not league-approved, but this is all in pre-game warm ups. What about during the game?
Players were also subject to fines if they wore cleats that their team didn't declare as the dominant footwear color. This season, according to the memo, teams don't have to make such declaration and players can wear solid black, solid white or a secondary team color.
So, Antonio Brown’s cleats which he wore to honor the late Arnold Palmer in 2016 (pictured above) would be okay for the pre-game warm up, but would likely draw a fine if he wore them during the game.
The league isn’t going to let players wear whatever they want, but they are starting to relax a bit. Baby steps, but still progress for those who think the league just needs to lighten up.