Titans linebacker Avery Williamson faces potential fines for planning to wear patriotic cleats in honor of those who died on 9/11 -- and two police union heads were so outraged that they pledged to pay his fine if he wore them during a game.
Williamson planned to wear custom cleats during the Titans’ home opener, but a league representative warmed him prior to the game that he could be fined for violating uniform policy, according to media reports.
“I don’t want to draw negative attention, so I’m just going to focus on playing the game,” he told The Tennessean on Sept. 9. “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.”
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The star-spangled blue cleats feature red and white-striped Nike swooshes and the words “Never Forget” and “9/11” on the back of the shoes, though the NFL requires all teammates wear the same color scheme.
As an alternative, Williamson said he’s planning to auction the cleats to benefit Operation Warrior Wishes, as well as offer a meet and greet, VIP tickets to a home game and an autographed jersey.
“I’m going to try to get a couple of veterans to come to a game,” he said. “I feel like just reaching out to people, helping them, somebody that’s served our country, I feel like that’s a great honor, so I wanted to do something nice for them. I feel like it’s a great cause.”
Williamson said he felt compelled to wear the cleats following the controversy surrounding San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s recent protest of the national anthem.
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“I guess if he wants to stand up for something, he can, because everybody has a voice,” he said of Kaepernick. “If that’s the way he wants to express himself, that’s the way he’s doing it. It’s his decision. And I just wish him luck with it ... It can be used for good or bad, either or, but you definitely have a bigger platform than you think."
Some of Williamson’s teammates have encouraged him to wear the cleats during the game regardless of warnings from the NFL, which has always been strict about its dress code.