The NFL is really trying to get rid of the “No Fun League” nickname. They’ve already loosened the celebration rules that had been tightening over the years, now their backing off a bit on the somewhat draconian footwear rules. In a memo reported on by ESPN, players will now be allowed to wear more personalized cleats during warm-ups and will have greater freedom on cleat color worn during the games.
Players will now be allowed to wear and cleat design they want during warm-ups — as long as they don’t depict commercialized or trademarked logos other than league-approved footwear from Nike, Under Armor, and Adidas. They can’t have anything offensive or political on them, either. The memo also says that team will not need to declare their cleat colors and players can choose to wear all white, all black, or the teams secondary-colored cleats.
Where this may not seem like that big of a deal, it is to the players. Back when Peyton Manning was with the Indianapolis Colts, he wanted to wear black cleats to honor the passing of Colts legendary quarterback Johnny Unitas, but the team had declared white cleats for the game and the request was denied by the league and told he’d be fined $25k if he did. Another player, Chris Redman of the Baltimore Ravens, wore them without asking and was fined $5k.
Odell Beckham Jr of the New York Giants was fined $18k for wearing a pair of cleats in pregame honoring the late broadcaster Craig Sager before the team played against the Detroit Lions.
Both of these examples would now be allowed under the new policy.
This change likely came as a result of a move the NFL did in relaxing the rule for a week, allowing players to design their own cleats for a charity of their choice in Week 13 of last season. The program drew critical acclaim.