Using names compiled by players in the league, the NFL’s season scheduled to begin on September 10 might feature some players wearing helmet decals emblazoned with the names or initials of what sources for Front Office Sports call “police violence victims and systemic racism.”
“The NFL’s 1,700-plus players will likely be invited to wear helmet decals bearing the names or initials of police violence victims and systemic racism, sources told Front Office Sports. The league office is working with the NFL Players Association to compile a list of names in time for the start of the regular seasons, which is currently scheduled to begin on September 10, said sources. The players will provide the names,” Front Office Sports reported.
Steve Wyche, senior correspondent for NFL Network, said, “They’re still in discussions. But this sounds like it’s going to happen,” noting that each player would make their own decision, adding, “You might have one team with 15 different decals.” He surmised that an entire team might use the opportunity to unanimously use one name; Front Office Sports suggested that the Minnesota Vikings might use the opportunity to cite George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis.
“For decades, the NFL uniform has been virtually sacrosanct. Besides the team and NFL ‘shield’ logos, the only branding allowed was typically small logos of official uniform partners like Nike or Reebok and the American flag. The goal has been to create and maintain a standardized look for all 32 teams,” Front Office Sports pointed out.
In 2016, after five police officers were murdered in Dallas, the Dallas Cowboys wanted to salute the men during the season by citing them in decals on their helmets, as the Cowboys had worn “Arm in Arm” helmet decals in training camp. The NFL refused permission. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones capitulated, saying, “Everyone has to be uniform with the league and the other 31 teams. We respect their decision.”
The Cowboys are wearing a helmet sticker to support their "Arm in Arm" initiative for the City of Dallas Police Dept pic.twitter.com/cmCtGpivic
— Nick Eatman (@nickeatman) July 30, 2016
Dallas Cowboys walk out on field arm to arm with Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings: pic.twitter.com/ulPb6lrUnW
— Brandon George (@DMN_George) July 30, 2016
The NFL has permitted helmet decals or patches to honor former players or owners who have died; they have also allowed them for branches of the U.S. Armed Forces during the annual “Salute to Service” in November.
In 2016, kansascity.com noted there was a “cadre of retired players” who functioned as uniform inspectors for the uniforms and equipment worn by NFL players, adding, “They have specific checklists of things to look for before, during and even after games as outlined by the league … In the late 1990s, the NFL began using former players as a uniform inspectors, with one per team. According to the NFL’s website, there were several reasons for instituting guidelines and inspectors to report violations: ‘Compliance with the uniform rules helps the league to protect players from injury, maintain competitive balance, create a professional appearance and protect the league’s business partnerships.’”
Until 2016, only one inspector appeared for each game, but after the 2015 season, the NFL decided to have two inspectors per game, one for each team. The form the inspectors had to complete included the player’s number as well as his jersey, socks, pants, chin straps, thigh pad, and knee pads.