Antonio Brown’s cleats are becoming a weekly issue for the NFL — and for fans who think the NFL’s overbearing rules are crossing a line.
Brown took the field in cleats honoring late boxing legend Muhammad Ali, but after two drives, an NFL surrogate told Brown he had to take them off.
Brown has already made it clear he’s okay with paying fines to wear shoes he likes, but the official apparently told Brown he would not be allowed to re-enter the game until he changed. So he changed. Here’s how his feet looked the rest of the game:
Brown’s shoes (and the NFL’s attempts to make him take them off) have been the center of a season-long saga.
Week 1, Brown wore baby blue shoes, and earned a $9,000 fine. It made sense within the NFL’s rules: players have to wear shoes matching the team’s base colors — in Pittsburgh’s case, black and yellow — and those shoes did not.
Week 3, he wore shoes with pictures of his kids’ faces:
The four reasons I lace them up everyday #callgod #boomin pic.twitter.com/63BAysNCjE— Antonio Brown (@AntonioBrown) September 25, 2016
Those, too, were blue, so the NFL told him he had to take them off at halftime. He obliged, playing the rest of the game in regular cleats.
So after that, Brown said that while he planned on continuing to wear shoes with images of people that inspire him, he would ensure that his cleats would match the NFL’s coloring rules. He kept true to that promise Week 4 by wearing black and yellow shoes honoring late golfing legend Arnold Palmer, who spent much of his life in Western Pennsylvania.
.@AntonioBrown will pay tribute to Arnold Palmer on Sunday night with these custom cleats pic.twitter.com/UzzgNM62So— SB Nation (@SBNation) October 1, 2016
Those were black and yellow. Good! That works!
Now let’s look at the Ali cleats that drew the NFL’s ire Sunday:
Sunday vibes !— Antonio Brown (@AntonioBrown) October 7, 2016
Float like a butterfly, sting like !! #boomin pic.twitter.com/9uUtCJpId1
I’m not quite sure why the NFL is so strict about shoe coloring — I really don’t notice shoe colors while watching football, and I don’t think varying shoe colors would make the game harder to officiate or play. But apparently, the NFL thinks it’s important. Fine. Whatever.
But what exactly did Brown do wrong here? Those Ali shoes look pretty black-and-yellow to me! Were they supposed to be more black? More yellow?
Brown will be allowed to wear whatever cleats he wants Week 13, when the NFL plans on letting players wear alternate cleats for charity. But until then, I guess he’s got to follow the NFL’s guidelines, whatever those are.
The good news is that while Brown can get penalized and fined for shaking his butt and crotch, the league can’t boot him out of games for it. Keep shaking, Antonio, even if they won’t let you rock the kicks you want.