The NFL already relaxed the rules about celebration dances this offseason, and now they’re taking it one step further. The league will also ease up on the rules about cleats, making the game just a little more fun.
This season, players will have the freedom to wear custom cleats during pregame, up until warmups, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell. The league will also be more flexible about the color of cleats players wear during games.
Previously, players could only wear the color of cleats their team chose. This year, players can choose white, black, their team’s primary color, or a secondary uniform color for their game cleats.
We are talking about the NFL, so you already know there are some caveats here.
- Pregame custom cleats can’t display any kind of logo other than league-sanctioned shoe brands, like Nike, UnderArmour, or Adidas.
- The cleats can’t say anything that could be deemed offensive, which is pretty broad.
- These shoes cannot be used to express political views.
That last one is huge, especially in an era when players’ protests of the national anthem in support of racial equality are dominating the news cycle.
Last year, the league allowed players to show off custom cleats to benefit charities in Week 13. Players had to get the charity they were supporting approved by the league, and afterward, the cleats had to be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the charity they had chosen.
But that was just one week. Plenty of players got fined last year for wearing cleats that didn’t conform to the uniform rules. Odell Beckham Jr. was fined $18,000 for wearing cleats to honor the late, great Craig Sager.
The league fined Antonio Brown multiple times last year for breaking the uniform rules about cleats. The NFL also threatened to bench Brown for wearing cleats to honor the memory of boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
This is a shift toward making the NFL more fun, and that’s a step in the right direction.