Williamson was going to wear custom patriotic cleats during the Titans’ home opener against the Vikings on Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but those plans changed when a league representative called to inform him about a looming fine for violating uniform code.
“I don’t want to draw negative attention, so I’m just going to focus on playing the game,” Williamson told The Tennessean on Friday. “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.”
The star-spangled blue cleats with red- and white-striped Nike swooshes were airbrushed by True Blue Customs in Lexington, Ky. They feature the words “Never Forget” and “9/11” on the back of each shoe, with the “11” representing the Twin Towers. The NFL mandates all teammates wear the same color scheme on their shoes.
“I’m going to try to get a couple of veterans to come to a game,” Williamson 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.”
Last season, the NFL fined two Pittsburgh Steelers players $5,787 each for first-offense uniform violations –running back DeAngelo Williams for wearing “Find the Cure” in his eye black to promote breast cancer awareness, and cornerback William Gay for wearing purple cleats to raise awareness about domestic violence.
The New York Giants’ Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz plan to wear patriotic cleats in Sunday’s game against the Cowboys. The Tennessean has reached out to the NFL for comment on whether these players have received special permission or are simply willing to pay the fine.
Williamson, a fifth-round draft pick out of Kentucky in 2014, said he realized how large a platform NFL players have when San Francisco 49ers quarterbackColin Kaepernick stirred controversy by refusing to stand for the national anthem, because he feels minorities are oppressed by the United States.
“I guess if he wants to stand up for something, he can, because everybody has a voice,” Williamson said. “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.