News and Commentary

READ IT: NFL Releases List Of Things Players Cannot Wear For Stay-At-Home Draft, Includes ‘Political Statements’
Colin Kaepernick visits with fans following his NFL workout held at Charles R Drew high school on November 16, 2019 in Riverdale, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

While the rest of the sports world is in lockdown limbo, the NFL is plowing forward, holding its highly anticipated draft as scheduled starting on Thursday, but with one minor tweak: everyone’s participating remotely rather than converging on Las Vegas.

Ahead of the hugely popular event, the league has released its apparel guidelines for players participating in the “stay-at-home” draft, including listing what cannot be worn. Among the prohibited items or aspects of their clothing are any “political statements,” “libel or hate speech,” and any “disparaging depictions of the NFL.”

NBC Sports’ Pro-Football Talk obtained the full list of prohibited items and published it Sunday. Here’s the complete list, according to PFT:

  1. “Third-party logos other than those of NFL Official Licensed Partners; Nike, Adidas, UnderArmour, and New Era.”
  2. “Disparaging depictions of the NFL, or any other third-party brands.”
  3. “Non-NFL sports organizations or leagues.” (So much for the XFL Defenders garb.)
  4. “Racial, religious, or ethnic slurs.”
  5. “Explicit language.”
  6. “Obscene, pornographic (or escort services), violent (including firearms or other weapons), or sexual imagery.”
  7. “Libel or hate speech.”
  8. “Political statements.”
  9. “References to alcohol (including beer and wine), drugs (including cannabis), and/or gambling products (including poker).”
  10. “Tobacco products (including e-cigarettes).”
  11. “Reference to any illicit substances or activities.”
  12. “Pharmaceuticals (including OTD products) including restorative and/or enhancement products.”
  13. “Dietary and/or nutritional substances and products commonly referred to as ‘energy drinks.’”
  14. “References to movies, video games, and other media that contains or promotes objectionable material or subject matter.”
  15. “Derogatory statements regarding the NFL, its owners, employees, and/or NFL partners.”

“Any player who doesn’t want to comply can simply refuse the invitation to the draft,” PFT’s Mike Florio notes. “Or they can request an appearance fee to participate, as all of them should. And maybe they would, if they weren’t conditioned to believe that having an NFL franchise call dibs on their exclusive services for the next four or five years represents the realization of a lifelong dream.”

Since former San Francisco second-string quarterback Colin Kaepernick first began to refuse to stand for the playing of the National Anthem back in the 2016 preseason, the NFL has been struggling to figure out how best to balance players’ ability to express their political views during official NFL activities while also trying not to turn off a significant percentage of their fans. The league has ultimately opted to allow players a measure of self-expression, but have worked hard behind the scenes to keep the political displays to a minimum, including working closely with the players’ union and offering to invest in some social justice-oriented initiatives.

As for Vegas’ massive missed opportunity to host the draft this year, last week, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman decried the widespread economic shutdown as “total insanity” and pushed back on how businesses have been labeled “nonessential.”

“Tragically, we have already lost, to this virus, 128 individuals in Nevada,” Goodman declared during a city council meeting last Wednesday, as reported by Fox 5 Vegas. “But let me tell you, with a population of 3.2 million living in Nevada, those whom we have lost represent less than a half of one percent of our population, which has caused us to shut down our entire state and everything that makes Nevada unique. These are families that no longer have the ability to buy food for their children and other loved ones. Pay their bills. Pay their rent. Pay their mortgage. Pay their car payment. Or enjoy the life that they had prior to this shut down. Small businesses and those on week-to-week paychecks have been forced to close. Entire savings that were invested in these small businesses are being lost or are have already been lost. Hotels and restaurants, our entire tourism and convention industry business, has been shut down. It makes no sense. It makes no sense.”