News and Commentary

NFL Fines Players For Wearing Patriotic Cleats, Celebrates Anti-Flag Protests

The three NFL players who chose to wear cleats honoring America on Sunday expect to be fined by the NFL for doing so. Avery Williamson, Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. all wore the cleats on Sunday.

Williamson, of the Tennessee Titans, wore star-spangled blue cleats with the words “Never Forget” and “9/11” on the back of the shoes, with the “11” representing the Twin Towers.

New York and New Jersey police associations had volunteered to pay a fine levied by the NFL against Williamson if he wore the cleats; Bobby Egbert, the public information officer for the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents the police officers of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department, told The Tennessean:

The PAPD is the police department that has always patrolled the World Trade Center complex. On September 11, 2001, the PAPD lost 37 police officers at the World Trade Center, the largest, single loss ever suffered by a police department in the history of American law enforcement.

We read, with understandable interest, your piece on Avery Williamson and the NFL’s stance on Avery honoring the September 11th victims. 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.

After the game, Williamson told The Tennessean: “I just felt like I got so much support across the country, and especially when the New York and New Jersey police unions said that they would pay my fine, that really meant a lot, so I felt like if I didn’t wear them, I just wouldn’t have felt good about it. I felt like I had to do that, just for myself and to represent the people that were lost and the people that do their jobs every day to protect us. I feel like it was just a duty.”

Williamson is auctioning the cleats to benefit Operation Warrior Wishes; the latest bid was over $6,000.

” If I didn’t wear them, I just wouldn’t have felt good about it.”

Avery Williamson

Beckham and Cruz, both of the New York Giants, wore shoes adorned with American flags, fire trucks and other themed patriotic elements.

While the three players await their fines, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said he champions the rights of players across the league to kneel or act in some sort of protest during the playing of the national anthem.