The NFL threatened to fine a player for wearing 9/11 cleats and he wore them anyway
Tennessee Titans linebacker Avery Williamson ran onto the field wearing patriotic cleats that were meant to show respect, but instead sparked controversy courtesy of the NFL.
The league called Williamson before Sunday's game and threatened to fine him if he wore the supportive shoes. The NFL mandates all teammates wear the same color scheme on their feet.
"Once I heard them, I didn't even try to argue anything," Williamson said. "I just left it alone. I didn't want to press the issue."
But, after several teammates stepped in and offered to help pay the fine, Williamson reconsidered.
The blue and red airbrushed cleats read the words "Never Forget" and "9/11" on the back, paying tribute to the fallen on the 15th anniversary of the historically tragic events of September 11, 2001.
When a few New York and New Jersey police associations caught wind of Williamson's intentions, they also supportively intervened.
"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," said a public information officer for the police department that patrols the World Trade Center complex.
This wasn't about money for Williamson. But when the organizations spoke so strongly in favor of wearing the cleats, the linebacker's decision was made.
In light of recent events surrounding Colin Kaepernick's protest of the national anthem, Williamson said he didn't want to do anything that would distract his team from the game itself. At the same time, he knew he had a platform to speak out –- and the support from his teammates and the police unions solidified his decision.
"It can be used for good or bad, either or, but you definitely have a bigger platform than you think."
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