The NFL have long honoured Breast Cancer Awareness Month by decking out pitches, players and kit in pink. They also sell limited-edition pink merchandise for the month.
However, they have come under criticism for refusing an NFL player’s request to wear pink beyond the end of October.
Outside of October, the NFL enforces strict branding and uniform rules. These state that the players must wear the agreed brands when representing the NFL as part of branding deals worth millions. Marshawyn Lynch famously escaped a fine for his appearance at an NFL press conference sporting a hat by his own brand, ‘Beast Mode’, because the hat was “given to him by an NFL licencee and was in team colours”. He was fined $10,000 in 2011 for wearing cleats branded by one of his personal sponsors, Skittles.
Under these rules, the NFL have banned DeAngelo Williams of the Pittsburgh Steelers from continuing to wear pink on the pitch in support of raising awareness of breast cancer. DeAngelo lost his mother and four aunts to the disease. He was recently fined almost $6,000 for wearing two black ‘find the cure’ temporary tattoos on his face during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The team have come under fire for the decision but no criticism is greater than that of DeAngelo’s two young daughters. On Sunday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter posted pictures of William’s daughters holding a sign that read “wearing pink because Daddy is not allowed…. The NFL cannot fine us”. He wrote “NFL declined DeAngelo Williams' request to wear pink beyond October, but his daughters (are) having none of it”.
Speaking to ESPN, Williams said that he was disappointed by the NFL’s decision. “For me it’s not just a month, it’s a lifestyle. It’s about getting women to recognise to get tested”.
The NFL’s annual month-long campaign has raised around $8million for the American Cancer Society since it began in 2009. In the same time period, players have been fined over $76.8 million for various infractions. The NFL has fined players around $30,000 so far for uniform infractions in 2015.