Wear those patriotic cleats! We’ll cover the fine.
That was the message from the union that represents the Port Authority cops after the NFL threatened to fine a Tennessee Titans linebacker who had planned to pay tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with a pair of custom cleats.
Avery Williamson, a third-year linebacker from Ohio, had planned to wear the 9/11-themed cleats on Sunday during the Titans’ home opener against the Vikings. Sunday is the 15th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon. He changed his mind when a league rep called to tell him he would be fined for violating the NFL’s uniform code.
“I don’t want to draw negative attention, so I’m just going to focus on playing the game,” Williamson told The Tennessean on Friday. “Once I heard from them, I didn’t even try to argue anything. I just left it alone. I didn’t want to press the issue.”
Port Authority union head Paul Nunziato expressed his outrage when reached by the Daily News on Saturday morning.
“You have to wonder, when the NFL allows a player to wear socks depicting cops as pigs but won’t allow another player to honor those murdered on 9/11, is NFL Football still America’s game?” Nunziato said.
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick – who is refusing to stand for the national anthem to protest police brutality against people of color – was seen during training camp this summer wearing the pig socks.
Titans linebacker Avery Williamson says the NFL called him Friday with threat of a fine.
(Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Williamson’s custom Nike cleats were the creation of True Blue Customs in Lexington, Kentucky, the newspaper reported. They feature the words “Never Forget” and “9/11/01” on each shoe. He played his college ball at the University of Kentucky.
The NFL’s strict uniform code mandates that every player wear the same color scheme on their shoes.
The public information officer for the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association reached out to The Tennessean on Saturday morning with the offer to foot the bill for Williamson’s fine.
Colin Kaepernick says he has been wearing socks depicting police officers as pigs in protest of ‘rogue cops’ who put the community and other officers at risk.
“The PAPD is the police department that has always patrolled the World Trade Center complex,” Bobby Egbert wrote in an email to the newspaper. “On September 11, 2001, the PAPD lost 37 officers at the World Trade Center, the largest, single loss ever suffered by a police department in the history of American law enforcement.
“We read, with understandable interest, your piece on Avery Williamson and the NFL’s stance on Avery honoring the September 11th victims. We, along with the New Jersey Police Benevolent Association, are offering to pay any reasonable fine levied by the NFL if Avery chooses to wear his 9/11 cleats.”
It’s unclear at this point if the encouragement of the police unions – and several of his teammates – will get Williamson to change his mind.
As of Friday night, the Titans ‘backer said he would just auction off his custom cleats to raise money for a veteran’s charity – Operation Warrior Wishes.
“I got some shoes I got done exactly like the cleats,” Williamson told The Tennessean, “so I’m just going to wear them to the game.”
With Thomas Tracy