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NFL Says ‘No’ to Patriotic 9/11 Cleats, Continues to Allow Disrespect for National Anthem

Monday, September 12, 2016 @ 12:00 AM

TUPELO, Miss.—Tennesee Titans linebacker Avery Williamson wore a custom pair of cleats on Sunday that paid respect to all those affected by the Sept. 11 attacks 15 years ago. The move could be costly, as the NFL previously told Williamson that the cleats were not permitted and threatened a fine.

He wore them anyway.

Williamson’s story resonated strongly with his fellow players, law enforcement officers, first responders and fans, especially as the NFL is doing nothing to address the ongoing disrespect to the national anthem before games around the nation.

American Family Association (AFA,, through Action Alerts to its one million plus friends and supporters, has been calling on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to enact a policy that will fine players for not respecting the national anthem. After all, the NFL has numerous policies and fines in place for seemingly much less offensive actions, such as wearing cleats that honor fallen Americans and even handing footballs to fans after touchdowns, which carries a $6,076 fine on the first offense and a $12,154 fine on the second offense. Uniform consistency violations also carry that same $6,076 fine.

“It is ludicrous that the NFL fines players thousands of dollars for actions such as honoring fallen 9/11 heroes or turning a football over to a jubilant fan,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “Yet the league turns a blind eye when players disrespect the national anthem, and by extension, the entire nation and those who fought—and continue to fight—for our freedoms. True, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, but it does not prevent the NFL from having a code of conduct that requires its employees to stand at attention during the playing of the national anthem. With its inaction, the NFL has fostered an environment that allows blatant disrespect for our anthem, flag and nation.”

After word about the NFL’s potential fine for Williamson’s cleats—which carried the words “never forget” and “9/11,” with the number 11 representing the World Trade Center towers—several of his fellow players, as well as four New York and New Jersey police associations, offered to help pay the fine, according to The Tennessean.

Two New York Giants players—Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz—also paid their respects to the victims of 9/11 yesterday by wearing the patriotic commemorative cleats, according to the New York Post. And they dared the NFL to fine them. Beckham’s special cleats were red, white and blue and depicted a bald eagle and the Twin Towers, while Cruz’s shoes featured red and white stripes, blue star accents and a fire truck that featured his late father’s engine number.

AFA is also reminding the NFL, and the entire country, of the standards that Congress has established for participation in and respect for the national anthem. 36 U.S. Code 301 says that “all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart...”

“The NFL’s failure to address this growing issue is a gross disrespect of American values,” Wildmon added. “The NFL is wholeheartedly disregarding the code that sets the standard for how individuals should conduct themselves during the national anthem. The NFL’s true colors are emerging as a progressive, left-leaning organization that is attempting to appear fair, neutral and accommodating when, in actuality, the league is enabling activists, individuals and groups that disrespect the U.S.A.”

AFA is urging Americans to tell the NFL to respect 36 U.S. Code 301 and fine players who refuse to stand during the national anthem by taking action in several ways:

  1. Call NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at (212) 450-2000.
  2. Connect with Goodell via Facebook, or on Twitter.
  3. E-mail Goodell through his public relations contact (a pre-written message is provided online)

For more information on American Family Association, visit or follow AFA on Facebook or on Twitter @AmericanFamAssc.


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