The NFL will sting players for wearing the wrong cleats, sweatbands or non-league-issued gear. They have an inspector who makes his way around the field and personally checks out players' garb.
No joke. But now inspectors apparently have followed the players inside locker rooms and are threatening to issue fines for those who are not in sartorial lockstep with the league's stringent and ridiculous rules on what can and can't be worn. Yes, even after the game.
Case in point: Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall was laughing, joking and filling up reporters' notebooks and recording devices with post-game gold after Sunday's victory over the Oakland Raiders. Hall, when he wants to be, is among the more quotable and colorful players in the league.
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But as he talked to a gaggle of media, Hall — wearing a Lacoste logo shirt — was approached by the NFL inspector and asked to stop talking because of his shirt.
#Redskins DeAngelo Hall was banned from talking with us by an NFL uniform inspector, who said he couldn't speak while wearing a Polo shirt.
— michael phillips (@michaelpRTD) September 30, 2013
D'Hall was in a great mood giving us great answers and then a NFL official walked over and told him to change his shirt. He wasnt happy. — Dianna Marie Russini (@DRussNBC) September 30, 2013
Now, in fairness, there are rules on this that apparently prohibit players from wearing certain non-approved logos. Rule 5, Section 4, Article 6 of the NFL Rule Book: “Throughout the period on game-day that a player is visible to the stadium and television audience (including in pregame warm-ups, in the bench area, and during postgame interviews in the locker room or on the field), players are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or orally promoting equipment, apparel, or other items that carry commercial names or logos/identifications of companies, unless such commercial identification has been approved in advance by the League office. The size of any approved logo or other commercial identification involved in an agreement between a manufacturer and the League will be modest and unobtrusive, and there is no assurance that it will be visible to the television audience.”
But walk into any postgame locker room, or go to the podium for that matter, and you're likely to see a scene such as this — Denver Broncos (suspended) linebacker Von Miller, for instance, wearing a shirt with the letters "YMCMB" on it. For the uninitiated, it stands for: Young Money Cash Money Billionaires.
Brilliant, really. Because it's the NFL's billion-dollar machine that makes such spartan and ridiculous rules in the first place.
This kind of thing is common. Players go out and battle for three-plus hours, and then they are asked a lot of questions — win or lose — by media. They seek comfort, and frankly they probably deserve it. No one watching a post-game interview or looking at a picture of an athlete after a game is thinking: "Why is he wearing that brand?!" But the league can hold the rule over the players to protect their brand and, in certain cases, charge fines for wardrobe missteps.
It's not entirely clear if the NFL has player safety with the highest concern in mind. But their clothes? You can be sure this will be carried out to the letter of the law. Especially when those letters contain something other than "NFL," such as the True Religion 'U' the Steelers Antonio Brown sported just last week during a pre-game press conference: