The NFL will fine or warn players for wearing cleats featuring personal or political messages, but an image of Arnold Palmer on Antonio Brown’s cleats: just fine.
Brown, who helped the Steelers demolish the Chiefs on Sunday night, sported a pair of cleats with Palmer’s image on them, honoring the Pittsburgh-area golfing legend who passed away one week ago.
Brown had the opportunity to meet with Palmer during the Steelers’ training camp earlier this year in Palmer’s hometown of Latrobe, Pa. Upon receiving news of Palmer’s passing, shared the details and video of his meeting:
Blessed to meet the legend Arnold Palmer ! His tenacity on the course + in business is so inspirational !!
— Antonio Brown (@AntonioBrown) September 26, 2016
The NFL has traditionally taken a dim view of players offering up messages on their cleats, which, given the stylistic flourishes of players like Cam Newton and Odell Beckham Jr., is a shame.
Even less defensible is the NFL’s stance against any kind of message of family love or honor. However, the NFL decided not to fine players who wore patriotic cleats on 9/11; combine that with this permission, and perhaps league officials are realizing the negative publicity that comes from trying to protect image at the expense of soul. Perhaps.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.