In an effort to share his support for breast cancer awareness, the 32-year-old submitted a formal request to push through October and wear pink all season long.
The NFL’s vice president of football operations Troy Vincent denied his request and soon after, the league released a statement, which read, “There is a long-standing policy for all players regarding uniforms that is league-wide for all 32 teams. The league works with the clubs and players to raise awareness collectively for breast cancer during the month of October.” This was expected and commonplace in the NFL for these requests.
Williams told ESPN, “It’s not just about October for me; it’s not just a month, it’s a lifestyle. It’s about getting women to recognize to get tested.”
Williams’ support for breast cancer is strong after losing his mother, Sandra Hill, in 2014. She was 53 years old. In addition to his mother, he lost four aunts to breast cancer. Due to the close family ties, he made it his mission to support awareness.
— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) October 11, 2015
His request denial isn’t rare for the league. In the past, the NFL has denied requests from players to display their support for particular causes if it’s outside the bounds of approved uniforms. If the players’ ignore those denials, they are hit with fines. Most recently, the league fined Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward $5,787 when he donned “Ironhead” on his eye black in a nod to his father, Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, who died of cancer in 2006.
Heyward tweeted after the incident earlier this month. Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber told HuffPost Live that Williams should ignore the NFL’s denial and accept a fine. “I’d actually like to see [Williams] just do it. Get the fine and then make the league or the team match the fine and let it go to breast cancer research.” “This is [an issue] that is near and dear to so many players,” Barber continued. “My mother had breast cancer. She is a 19-year survivor. We all know that a lot of players go through this issue, and the league recognizes that. And that’s why we have breast cancer awareness month with the pink and the National Football League.
I don’t see anything wrong with extending it. I really don’t, because it’s something that is not only season-long, but a lifelong issue for a lot of players and a lot of people in this country.”
The battle to extend breast cancer awareness in the NFL may be on hold, but that isn’t dampening Williams’ enthusiasm. With support from his self-titled foundation, the athlete is funding mammograms for 53 women at hospitals located in Charlotte, North Carolina and Pittsburgh.