The story we reported Friday morning, about the likelihood that NFL players might be fined for wearing special Reebok apparel paying tribute to the 9/11 fallen, now has a happy ending.
The league that once threatened to fine Peyton Manning $25,000 for wearing high-top cleats in memory of the late Johnny Unitas has now decided that the specter of disallowing shoes and gloves that help memorialize the 10th anniversary of 9/11 would cause the kind of public relations nightmare that even the NFL itself couldn't quite get its arms around.
Thus, this Friday afternoon tweet from NFL spokesman Michael Signora:
Of course, the players' fear that they would be fined for wearing unauthorized apparel was not unfounded. Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs put this series of messages out on Friday morning after Reebok sent Briggs his gear for Sunday:
Other players, like Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, Washington Redskins tight Chris Cooley and Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, added their public support to the idea.
And, at least one unnamed San Diego Chargers player told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune that he expected to see a $5,000 fine for wearing the specific clothing — a fine he seemed happy to pay.
So, while the NFL could have jumped on this story with a bit more urgency to insure that players wouldn't assume a fine, we send kudos for not sticking to the league uniform code in a situation where an exception clearly had to be made.
The NFL is already planning a series of 9/11 remembrances, and the league and NFLPA are combining to donate $1 million to various charities and memorials. To let a simple uniform issue get in the way of issues infinitely more important would have been a real shame.
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- Peyton Manning